The Taliban were using civilians to shield themselves and that was complicating the army’s offensive, Ghani said Tuesday at a press conference. They’ve attacked from different directions to attempt to take back the city. But residents, recalling the group’s brutality during its 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, were fearful of what was to come.
Meantime, locals said that the Taliban insurgents have also attacked security checkpoints in Khawjaghar and Ashkamish districts of Takhar province Tuesday morning. “No one is safe”.
Ayoub Salangi, the deputy interior minister, said security forces were ready to retake Kunduz and pledged to investigate how the Taliban managed to seize a major urban centre for the first time in 14 years. “The enemy’s main objective was to create fear and terror”.
“A spokesman said the USA carried out an airstrike to eliminate a threat to Afghan security forces”.
USA warplanes targeted various Taliban positions early Tuesday, but Afghan soldiers were unable to make much progress thanks to roadblocks set up by the Taliban. Of those, 110 prisoners were Taliban insurgents, Nabil said.
Afghan security forces have retreated to the outlying airport, leaving the Taliban effectively in control of Kunduz after they stormed the city on Monday, capturing government buildings and freeing hundreds of prisoners.
“The Afghan government has sent in reinforcements – and says it’s started an operation to regain control of the city”.
“I want to reassure all the countrymen that Kunduz is under control”.
For over a decade, Kunduz hosted Germany’s second largest base in Afghanistan, which was handed to the local military in October 2013. The region is one of the country’s chief bread baskets and has rich mining assets. The city is the capital of the Kunduz province and lies at a strategic crossroads connecting the four points of Afghanistan.
But the Taliban denied official claims of advances in Kunduz.
The situation remains fluid, the press secretary said, adding that it highlights the “ongoing challenge that the Afghan security forces are taking on every single day [and] the very risky situation that they face”.
Taliban success in Kunduz puts IS firmly in the shade, proving that while the newcomers might be capable of planting a roadside bomb here and there or picking off policemen, they are nowhere near being able to take a city.
The Taliban has bolstered its strength north of Kunduz for months and has had its eyes on the city. The northern city is not only an important transport hub, but it was also the Taliban’s northern stronghold before the US invasion.
It was unclear how many casualties – fighters or civilians – resulted from the battles.
Dominic Medley, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said its staff in Kunduz had been relocated.
He urged all parties to the conflict to take “all measures to protect civilians from harm”.