Afghan officials said government troops have recaptured much of the strategic northern city of Kunduz from Taliban insurgents early on Thursday.
Afghan forces, backed by U.S. air strikes, have been struggling for two days to retake the city after it became the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban since 2001.
- “Afghan security forces got control of Kunduz city from Taliban overnight after heavy fighting,” Hamdullah Danishi, acting governor of Kunduz province, said via telephone.
“After we got reinforcements and started a massive operation inside Kunduz city, the Taliban could not resist and escaped. We will give a full report soon,” he added.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence,Dawlat Waziri, said the counter-offensive started at 11 p.m. on Wednesday and finished at 4 a.m. Thursday.
- “Right now, the Taliban have left Kunduz city. A clearance operation is ongoing,” Waziri said.
However, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman denied that the government had retaken Kunduz, saying insurgent fighters were still resisting government forces in the center and controlled most of the rest of the city.
- “Enemy claims regarding the Kunduz situation are not true. Mujahedeen (Taliban fighters) are resisting in the city’s security circle,” Mujahid said, adding the Taliban still controlled most of the city and surrounding districts.
“American forces are also involved in this fight but we are still defending.”
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