Afghan forces flush­ing Tale­ban out of Kun­duz

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

from street to street. I have to move my fam­ily to a safer place un­til the sit­u­a­tion comes back to nor­mal.” The as­sault launched early Mon­day came just over a year af­ter mil­i­tants briefly seized the provin­cial cap­i­tal, and as Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani flew to Brus­sels to meet world lead­ers for a cru­cial for­eign aid con­fer­ence. In­te­rior min­istry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said fight­ing was on­go­ing in the city’s out­skirts, and that at least 30 Tale­ban in­sur­gents had been killed. The de­fense min­istry ear­lier yes­ter­day said three Afghan sol­diers were killed and seven wounded in the fight­ing.

The num­ber of civil­ians reach­ing hospi­tal with bul­let and shrap­nel wounds jumped from around 40 to more than 100 yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, hospi­tal of­fi­cials said, with one per­son killed. Kun­duz provin­cial gov­er­nor As­sadul­lah Omarkhil said the op­er­a­tion was mov­ing slowly “be­cause the Tale­ban are us­ing peo­ple’s houses to hide”. But a Tale­ban spokesman in­sisted via Twit­ter that the mil­i­tants were still ad­vanc­ing. The in­sur­gents are known to ex­ag­ger­ate their claims. Jawid Salim a spokesman for the spe­cial forces in Kun­duz, said the Tale­ban were set­ting fire to some build­ings as they were pushed out of the city, in­clud­ing the main power sta­tion.

On Mon­day res­i­dents had re­ported be­ing trapped in their homes by in­tense fight­ing as the sound of ex­plo­sions echoed across the city, with provin­cial of­fi­cials voic­ing fears it could fall. NATO spokesman Bri­gadier Gen­eral Charles Cleve­land said the gov­ern­ment was in con­trol of the city, but the strength of the attack was still be­ing as­sessed. “We did see fight­ing but we did not see the scale of attack that was ini­tially be­ing re­ported,” he said, com­par­ing it to “ex­ag­ger­ated” attacks ear­lier this year on Lashkar Gah in Hel­mand, and Tarin Kot in Uruz­gan. Afghan troops had re­sponded “ef­fec­tively”, he said.

‘Pity for MSF vic­tims’

Ghani is meet­ing world lead­ers in Brus­sels yes­ter­day and Wed­nes­day in a bid to se­cure fi­nan­cial aid from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity up to 2020. The meet­ing, 15 years af­ter the US in­va­sion of 2001, will try to drum up sup­port de­spite donor fa­tigue com­pounded by con­flicts in Syria and Iraq plus the worst mi­gra­tion cri­sis since World War II. “The en­emy at­tacked Kun­duz to catch the world’s at­ten­tion in Brus­sels,” de­fense min­istry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said yes­ter­day.

Af­ter seiz­ing Kun­duz on Septem­ber 28, 2015, the Tale­ban held the city for two days then with­drew from the out­skirts on October 15. More than 280 peo­ple were killed and hun­dreds wounded. A US air strike dur­ing the fight­ing hit a hospi­tal op­er­ated by Medecins Sans Fron­tieres on October 3, killing 42 peo­ple. The or­ga­ni­za­tion, which has not since re­launched its op­er­a­tions in Kun­duz, had planned to mark the an­niver­sary Mon­day by send­ing its coun­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive Guil­hem Molinie and in­ter­na­tional pres­i­dent Meinie Ni­co­lai to the city. But the fresh Tale­ban as­sault forced them to hastily can­cel and evac­u­ate non-med­i­cal staff who had been sent ahead to pre­pare. It was “a pity for the vic­tims”, Molinie told AFP. — AFP

ACCUMOLI: This hand­out pic­ture taken and re­leased by the Vatican press of­fice on October 4, 2016 shows Pope Fran­cis (C) pos­ing for a pic­ture dur­ing his visit in Accumoli, af­ter an earth­quake hit the area on Au­gust 24, a dis­as­ter that claimed nearly 300 lives. — AFP

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