Afghan security forces are engaged in heavy fighting with the Taliban in Kunduz and have beat back the militant group, the provincial governor said Tuesday.
“Taliban was defeated in their attack and now the situation is good,” Assadullah Omarkhail, the governor of Kunduz province, said. His remarks were reported by Tolo News, the Afghan news website.
“They failed to reach to their aim,” Omarkhail added.
As we reported Monday, Taliban militants launched an operation to recapture Kunduz, the capital of the province of the same name. The city, which the Taliban briefly seized in September 2015, is seen as strategically vital. It was the Taliban’s main northern stronghold before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
The extent of the Afghan government’s gain Tuesday is unclear, however. Tolo News quoted Mohammad Ali, a local police commander, as saying, in the words of the news website, “most parts of the city had fallen to the Taliban on Monday night except the airport, NDS office, governor’s compound, Bala Hisar and police headquarters.” Local officials who spoke to The New York Times offered similar assessments.
The fall of Kunduz city in 2015 was a major setback for the Afghan government because local troops were seen as unable to fill the security vacuum after the departure of U.S. and NATO troops in 2014. Government troops, aided by U.S. airstrikes, eventually recaptured the city, but the Taliban’s quick entry into Kunduz this week are likely to prompt similar fears. Indeed, the Times pointed out that U.S. forces were protecting Omarkhail’s compound in the city.
The fighting in Kunduz comes as the Afghan government officials, including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, are at an EU-led conference in Brussels to seek financial support to rebuild their country.