Free Press Journal

Afghan security forces try to flush out Taliban in Kunduz


Kabul: Afghan security forces were going from house to house hunting for remaining Taliban insurgents in Kunduz today, days after the militants captured the city in a stunning strike, sparking fierce fighting. Officials said they were in control of the northern provincial capital while in the east of the country, a US military transport plane crashed killing 11 people including six US soldiers.

The Taliban claimed to have shot the C-130 Hercules down near Jalalabad. However, US Major Tony Wickman said: “With a high degree of confidence I can say that an enemy attack did not contribute to the crash. It is under investigation.” The Taliban’s offensive in Kunduz, their biggest tactical success since 2001, marks a blow for Afghanistan’s NATO-trained forces, who have largely been fighting on their own since December.

Officials said today that Afghan forces had secured the city after days of fierce clashes with the insurgents clouded by confusing and contradictory claims by the government and the Taliban over who was in control.

“Today our security forces are deployed all over Kunduz,” provincial police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini said. “We are searching the lanes of the city and residential houses looking for Taliban militants… We will target and kill them.”

The city was under the control of Afghan forces, he said, including at the government offices and police headquarters. Residents said this morning that the fighting appeared to have ceased. “You don’t see anyone in the streets, the shops are closed, and there is no fighting between the Taliban and government forces,” Zabihullah, a Kunduz resident who goes by one name, said.

Some people injured during the fighting were too afraid of Taliban attack to leave their homes and go to hospital, he said, adding that food was running short and there was no electricity. Shahir, another resident who goes by one name, said that sounds of gunfire or explosions in the city had become more intermittent by this morning.

“We cannot move from our houses and walk in the streets because the Taliban have taken positions in tall buildings, they are firing on everyone, civilians and military,” he said. Late yesterday, residents had said fierce gun battles and explosions were still echoing in parts of the city, and the streets were littered with Taliban bodies and charred and mangled vehicles.