Mass Taliban attacks on Kunduz, as well as on the Musa Qala district center in Helmand province in the south during a bloody fighting season, have taken on broad political and strategic significance and provided the insurgents with a major propaganda boost.
The siege came a day after a bomb attack on a volleyball match killed 13 and the Islamic State group carried out co-ordinated strikes against police in the country’s east, ending a brief lull in violence during the Muslim festival of Eid. “It looks pretty grim”.
Dominic Medley, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said its staff in Kunduz had been relocated. “They left soon after”, he said.
The Taliban victory, coming suddenly after what had appeared to be a stalemate through the summer, gave the insurgents a military and political prize – the capture of a major Afghan city – that has eluded them since 2001.
Local police say the insurgents have seized half of the strategically located city, including a courthouse, a hospital and other government buildings.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss an ongoing military operation.
Government officials said reinforcements were being sent to the city.
He said Afghan reinforcements could still take back the areas of downtown Kunduz now in Taliban hands, but the insurgents may be tough to dislodge. They said residents were streaming to the airport in an effort to flee.
“The Taliban have many times in the past showed their callous disregard for human life and civilians often suffer the brunt of their attacks”.
“Once they get inside an urban area, your air assets and artillery become much less useful”, Smith said.
Kunduz, in the northeast corner of Afghanistan, succumbed to “a massive and well executed attack” beginning at 3 a.m. on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the country’s unity government. They have stepped up their offensive this year as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces drew down to just a few thousand troops.
“Taliban militants with loudspeakers were preaching their messages in every part of the city and marched with armored vehicles seized from the security forces”, he said.
Gen. John Campbell, who leads coalition forces in Afghanistan, will testify before the committee in October.
“All the terrorists killed were Pakistani citizens”, under the command of Hafiz Saeed, who was also killed, the National Directorate of Security statement said.
Safraz had retreated to the airport, and said he was prepared to fight the Taliban with a borrowed AK-47 rifle.
The fighting began at dawn Monday, with bands of Taliban fighters advancing from three directions, said Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for the Kunduz police.
Marauding insurgents hoisted their flag over the main square of the northern city of Kunduz, freed prisoners from the local jail and set fire to the local intelligence agency headquarters, witnesses and officials said.
On Twitter, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, urged Kunduz residents to stay in their homes until the fighting was over. There are unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties and the Taliban taking over official buildings, including a public hospital.