Afghan forces re­take con­trol of Kun­duz

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Pamela Con­sta­ble and Sayed Salahud­din

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan forces backed by U.S. air power ex­pelled most Tal­iban in­sur­gents from the north­ern city of Kun­duz on Tues­day, pro­tect­ing govern­ment build­ings and re­tak­ing the cen­tral square af­ter in­sur­gents oc­cu­pied it Mon­day.

Of­fi­cials said they were still search­ing for in­sur­gents and ac­com­plices hid­ing in res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

Fight­ing also con­tin­ued for a sec­ond day in south­ern Hel­mand prov­ince, where Afghan forces drove Tal­iban at­tack­ers from the cap­i­tal of Nawa dis­trict, but other in­sur­gent squads at­tacked the cap­i­tal of Khan­shin dis­trict. In nearby Uruz­gan prov­ince, Tal­iban forces launched at­tacks on roads lead­ing to the cap­i­tal, Tirin Kot, of­fi­cials said.

The surge of scat­tered in­sur­gent ag­gres­sion cre­ated an im­pres­sion of widen­ing in­se­cu­rity, Tal­iban per­sis­tence and mil­i­tary weak­ness, just as top Af-

U.S. com­mando killed on pa­trol

WASH­ING­TON — A U.S. com­mando has been killed in Afghanistan af­ter be­ing hit by a road­side bomb while on pa­trol with Afghan forces in a north­east­ern prov­ince bor­der­ing Pak­istan, the U.S. mil­i­tary said Tues­day.

U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces have been con­duct­ing counter-ter­ror op­er­a­tions with Afghan troops against Is­lamic State mil­i­tants in Achin, Nan­garhar prov­ince. The U.S. mil­i­tary said the ser­vice mem­ber died Tues­day from wounds sus­tained when the pa­trol trig­gered an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice. The com­mando’s iden­tity wasn’t yet re­leased, pend­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tion of fam­ily. ghan lead­ers ar­rived in Brus­sels for an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence where they hope to per­suade donors to sup­port the strug­gling govern­ment by pledg­ing $15 bil­lion over the next five years.

There have been in­di­ca­tions from some donor na­tions that in­ter­na­tional pa­tience with Afghanistan’s seem­ingly end­less war is wear­ing thin. Peace talks with the Tal­iban col­lapsed last year.

The new as­sault on Kun­duz was es­pe­cially trou­bling be­cause Tal­iban forces had cap­tured the strate­gic city a year ago and held it for more than a week, deal­ing a ma­jor psy­cho­log­i­cal blow to the U.S.-backed war ef­fort.

U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cials in Kabul con­firmed that spo­radic fight­ing was con­tin­u­ing in Kun­duz, but they said the govern­ment is in con­trol of the city. They said that one U.S. he­li­copter had fired “to de­fend friendly forces” and that other U.S. mil­i­tary as­sets had been brought to the area and were ready to as­sist Afghan forces. Afghan of­fi­cials said three troops had been killed.

Tal­iban forces were also re­ported to have launched as­saults in Bagh­lan prov­ince on Tues­day and cut off roads to Kun­duz from there and other prov­inces, but of­fi­cials said the in­sur­gents were re­pelled.

BASHIR KHAN SAFI/GETTY-AFP

An Afghan com­mando takes aim Tues­day amid fight­ing against Tal­iban mil­i­tants.

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