“The Taliban have taken the city but our forces are still putting up resistance in a few areas”, Kunduz police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini told AFP, adding that promised reinforcements from Kabul were awaited.
Afghan police say the Taliban seized more than half the city, including a courthouse, a hospital and other government buildings.
Kunduz was swarming with Taliban fighters racing police vehicles, who officials said overran the governor’s compound and the local police headquarters.
On Sunday 13 people were killed and 33 wounded at a volleyball match in the eastern province of Paktika.
The official said Monday that the U.S.is aware that the Taliban have taken control of a hospital and a number of government buildings, and that both the insurgents and Afghan security forces have sustained a significant number of casualties.
The government forces were preparing a counter-offensive from the airport, according to Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
The militants have battled their way into the city of Kunduz in Northern Afghanistan and freed hundreds of fellow militants from jail.
The Taliban had its sight set on Kunduz, strategically located about 250km north of the capital, Kabul, close to the Tajik border since earlier this year. Kunduz city was the center of fierce fighting in April as the Taliban, driven from power by a 2001 U.S.-backed military intervention, sought to gain territory after last year’s end of NATO’s combat mission.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Majahid urged Kunduz residents to stay indoors.
Afghanistan continues to face insecurity 14 years after the USA and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
Another eyewitness told the agency that the Taliban had managed to hoist their flag over Kunduz’s main square.
The Taliban have a history of brutality toward those they regard as apostates, and have banned girls from school as well as music, movies and other trappings of modern life in areas under their control.
Kunduz, one of Afghanistan’s wealthiest provinces, is a crossroads for drugs and weapons moving between the northern provinces, and acts as a gateway to Tajikistan.
The Taliban victory, coming suddenly after what had appeared to be a stalemate through the summer, gave the insurgents a military and political prize – the capture of a major Afghan city – that has eluded them since 2001.
Militant violence has increased across Afghanistan since the departure of most United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces previous year. They said residents were streaming to the airport in an effort to flee.
“Our first priority is the safety and security of residents”, he said.
He added that reinforcements from neighboring provinces had already arrived in Kunduz city, with more on the way from other cities, including the capital Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif.
According to local officials from Takhar province, Taliban militants launched a massive attack on Eshkamish district late Monday afternoon.