Afghan city under Taliban attack
TALIBAN insurgents launched an assault on Kunduz yesterday, triggering intense fighting and forcing residents to hide in their homes, one year after the militants briefly took control of the Afghan city.
Government helicopters were targeting gunmen from the air in a bid to repel the attack, a day before President Ashraf Ghani was due to meet world powers at a major donors conference in Brussels.
“We are very hungry and do not have access to food at the moment. The city is deserted, the shops are closed ... The whole city is surrounded by the Taliban,” said 28-year-old Kunduz resident Abdullah.
Mahmood Danish, a spokesperson for the Kunduz governor, told AFP Taliban fighters had begun attacking the city from four directions before dawn.
“The Taliban are using civilian houses as shelters,” he said, adding there were militants in the southern part of the city, including near Kunduz regional hospital.
He said government forces were deployed across the city, including in the air, and had driven militants out of one district.
A Taliban spokesperson said insurgents had killed several soldiers and were making “rapid” progress.
The attack comes just over a year after the Taliban overran Kunduz, the only provincial capital to have fallen into their hands since they were ousted from power in 2001. Government control of the city has been shaky ever since.
Mr Ghani will meet with world leaders in Brussels today and tomorrow in a bid to secure financial aid from the international community up to 2020 to rebuild his war-ravaged country.
The meeting will try to drum up support from an international community suffering from donor fatigue as it grapples with conflicts in Syria and Iraq, plus the worst migration crisis in decades.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon are among those who will join hosts Ghani and EU President Donald Tusk. –
The Taliban launched an assault on Kunduz yesterday, one year after the Islamist militia briefly took over the northern Afghan city following a lightning offensive, an AFP correspondent said.