It comes a day after a bomb attack on a sports match in the eastern Paktika province killed nine people.
An Afghan official says hundreds of Taliban fighters have launched a new attack on a strategic northern city, storming it from several directions.
The Taleban are in control of around half of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth largest city, a senior police official said yesterday.
“The mujahideen are trying to avoid any harm to Kunduz residents”, he said on his official Twitter account, referring to Taliban fighters.
“Yes, the enemy is in the city and they have taken over the prison and other buildings, but reinforcements will be deployed and the city will be taken back”, said interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi. However, unverified pictures circulating on social media showed Taliban militants hoisting their flags in several parts of the city; it also showed militants searching for wounded security personnel with the help of a medic at a provincial hospital.
It is the second time the city, which is the capital of the province bearing the same name, has come under Taliban attack this year.
“As fighting rages in Kunduz, all sides must ensure that civilians and civilian objects are protected according to worldwide humanitarian law, which governs all parties to an armed conflict”, Amnesty global Afghanistan researcher Horia Mosadiq stated in the release.
The fall of Kunduz marks a major setback for government forces, who have struggled to combat the Taliban since the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation shifted to a supporting role at the end of a year ago.
Sediqqi said 25 Taliban fighters had been killed.
So far, about 20 insurgents have been killed with confirmed casualties among security forces but no figure, he says.
One Afghan official predicted that the Taliban could sweep through the city – which includes an airport – unless Afghan security forces can quickly bolster their ranks and hold ground.
The capture of Kunduz is the first time the Taliban has taken control over a major urban center since the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Abdul Wadood Wahidi, spokesman for the governor of Kunduz province, said no government buildings, including hospitals, had been overtaken by the insurgents.
“I have not been able to speak with my constituents for the past few hours and fear that the Taliban might start massacre of people once they strengthen their positions”.
Google Kunduz is located near Afghanistan’s north-western border with Tajikistan.
“They have surrounded the police force in district first of the city”.
“The attack was directed from overseas and by the Taliban’s foreign supporters”, Murad said.
“Fifty per cent of the city is under Taliban control… and if we don’t get reinforcements in a half-hour, the city is going to collapse to the Taliban”.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Majahid urged Kunduz residents to stay indoors. Zafar Hashemi said the president was “in constant contact with the security and defence leadership to provide them with guidance”.
This year’s fighting season was marked by clashes not only in historical Taliban strongholds in the southern part of the country but also in northern areas that had previously been relatively secure.