Taliban attack on Afghan city kills, injures dozens, official says

During fierce clashes, the gunmen briefly seized a hospital, apparently looking for wounded government fighters. The Taliban is since believed to have regrouped and allied with other insurgents.

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One Afghan security official, who asked not to be identified, said many Afghan government officials were also feeling the city.

Afghan Ministry of Interior is expected to hold a press briefing on the development in Kunduz city.

The Taliban’s fresh assault on Kunduz came on the eve of the one-year anniversary of President Ashraf Ghani’s inauguration, and renewed the growing concerns about his government’s ability to quell the insurgency.

Kunduz province is on a strategic crossroads connecting the four points of Afghanistan.

The Reuters news agency reported that Taliban fighters hoisted their flag over the main intersection of the city of around 300,000 people.

Taliban fighters have captured large swathes of Kunduz, a major city in northern Afghanistan, after the group launched a surprise attack.

“The entire city is under lockdown”, said Alhaj Aminullah Nabizada, who is active in a local political party, citing accounts from local security forces and residents.

But as their northern power base before they were ousted 14 years ago, it is spiritually important for the Taliban. A bitter internal dispute over the appointment of his successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, has yet to be fully resolved, but seems to have had little impact on the battlefield.

As of Monday evening local time, insurgents controlled the main roundabout in the city of Kunduz.

Google Kunduz is located near Afghanistan’s north-western border with Tajikistan.

“All mujahideen (Taliban fighters) after taking over military targets and finishing the military operation should put their attention on keeping the lives, wealth and dignity of common people safe”. He advised residents to remain indoors.

Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for Kunduz police, said 20 Taliban fighters had been killed and three Afghan police wounded in the early morning clashes.

Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, the head of the Kunduz provincial council, said residents were “greatly concerned” about the deteriorating situation. Artist Hussain Daoudi, an eyewitness to the assault, described “the sound of bullets and blasts nearly everywhere in the city”. When the attack started, he said, insurgents had overrun “two local police check points outside the city but have been pushed back from both”.

The insurgents claimed as well a 200-bed hospital and posted on social media that proved they did indeed have control of the facility.

Militant violence has increased across Afghanistan since the departure of most U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces a year ago.

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Groups of militants stormed the city from the north, east and west, closing off routes for state reinforcements arriving from central and neighboring provinces.

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