Published: Sun, September 01, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Taliban launch ‘massive attack’ on Afghan city of Kunduz

Taliban launch ‘massive attack’ on Afghan city of Kunduz

The Taliban, who now control or hold sway over roughly half of the country and are at their strongest since their 2001 defeat, have demanded that all foreign forces leave. The attacks are seen as strengthening their negotiating position and in intra-Afghan talks expected to follow on the country's political future.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born US diplomat leading the talks for Washington, is expected in Kabul in the coming days to outline the terms of a settlement to the Afghan president ahead of meetings with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners. "In addition, General Miller visited Kunduz today and is focused on assisting Afghan forces defend the city". The blast killed 10 people and wounded five others, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

Taliban insurgents on Saturday launched a multi-pronged assault on Kunduz, a strategically important city in northern Afghanistan that has come under frequent attack since 2015. The commander of USA forces in Afghanistan, Gen Scott Miller, also visited the city, Khalilzad said.

Fatima Aziz, an Afghan lawmaker from Kunduz province, said heavy fighting has been going on in different parts of the city since 1:30 a.m. local time (5 p.m. ET).

Seddiqi told reporters in the capital, Kabul, that the assault "completely against the peace talks" and asserted that the militants were sheltering among civilians in Kunduz.

Feroz Bashari, a government spokesman, said in a series of tweets that at least 26 Taliban fighters were killed in the first airstrike in Zakhail, Kunduz.

The Taliban took control of the hospital in Kunduz, provincial council member Ghulam Rabani Rabani told The Associated Press. At least nine of them were wounded in the suicide attack, he said. Hours later the Afghan defense minister, Asadullah Khalid, rejected speculation that the city had collapsed.

The multi-pronged offensive on Kunduz, which has come under frequent attack since 2015, occurred as the USA and the Taliban continue to seek an agreement in Doha that would see thousands of American troops leave Afghanistan in return for various security guarantees.

Talks continued Saturday, a Taliban spokesperson said. Both sides have said that they are nearing a deal, although it was unclear if an agreement would be made by Washington's unofficial September 1 deadline.

"The Taliban attacked Kunduz city from several directions this morning". Washington, meanwhile, has sought guarantees that the Taliban will not use Afghanistan to launch future terror attacks against the US. The Taliban government had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

About 20,000 foreign troops, majority American, are now in Afghanistan as part of a US -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. For Taliban fighters, it is a moment to parade their military prowess as they talk peace with the United States and prepare for still sensitive Afghan negotiations.

Despite peace talks, fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces, who are backed by USA air power, has not subsided.

"Unfortunately, civilians are again the victims", she said.

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