Afghan forces re­take con­trol of key dis­trict: of­fi­cials

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Afghan forces on Tues­day re­cap­tured a key dis­trict close to the north­ern city of Kun­duz, re­pelling Tal­iban fight­ers who had threat­ened to over­run their first pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal since be­ing top­pled from power in 2001.

Chardarah was cap­tured by the Is­lamist mil­i­tant group on Sun­day, amid re­ports that they were mov­ing closer to the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal Kun­duz city, reignit­ing con­cerns over its po­ten­tial fall.

The Afghan army and po­lice, backed by he­li­copter gun­ships, launched a counter of­fen­sive from at least two di­rec­tions early Tues­day, quickly ad­vanc­ing to take over the restive dis­trict, of­fi­cials said.

“Chardarah has now been re­cap­tured ... 85 Tal­iban fight­ers in­clud­ing their com­man­der Rahmatullah have been killed,” pro­vin­cial gover­nor Mo­ham­mad Omar Safi told AFP, adding that six Afghan sol­diers were also killed in the fight­ing.

In a state­ment, the Afghan de­fense min­istry con­firmed the re­port, say­ing that spo­radic fight­ing con­tin­ued in small pock­ets in­side the dis­trict as Afghan forces chased out the mil­i­tants.

Afghan forces were also pre­par­ing to drive back the mil­i­tants from Dasht- e- Archi, another dis­trict they lost on Mon­day, of­fi­cials said.

The Tal­iban are yet to com­ments on the news.

The Tal­iban launched their an­nual spring of­fen­sive in late April with a brazen as­sault in Kun­duz province, com­ing close to over­run­ning it, but were beaten back by Afghan forces.

This year’s Tal­iban of­fen­sive marks the first fight­ing sea­son in which Afghan forces are bat­tling the in­sur­gents with­out the full sup­port of U.S.-led for­eign com­bat troops.

On Mon­day a Tal­iban car bomber and s i x gun­men launched a brazen as­sault on the Afghan par­lia­ment in Kabul, with gun­fire and ex­plo­sions send­ing law­mak­ers scur­ry­ing for cover.

All of the as­sailants and at least two Afghan civil­ians were killed in the at­tack.

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