Eight Afghan soldiers die fighting off Taliban attack on key city
Kunduz: Eight Afghan soldiers were killed on Tuesday while repelling a fierce Taliban attack on Kunduz, a strategic city in northern Afghanistan that had briefly fallen to the militants twice in the past, officials said.
Taliban fighters attacked several government posts on the outskirts of the city at around 1:00 am, a defence ministry statement said, triggering heavy fighting.
“With the support of air force their attack was repelled,” it said, adding the fighting lasted for several hours.
Defence Minister Assadullah Khalid, who visited Kunduz later on Tuesday, said the Taliban had “suffered big losses”.
“Unfortunately, we have also lost eight brave soldiers,” he told reporters.
Three civilians were also killed and 55 others wounded in the overall violence that rocked the city, Kunduz provincial health director Ehsanullah Afzali said.
Both sides have clashed repeatedly in rural areas in recent months, but an attempt to enter a city as large as Kunduz is seen as a serious escalation.
The latest violence follows a declaration by President Ashraf Ghani last week to resume offensive strikes against the insurgents following a string of brutal attacks.
The Taliban responded by vowing to increase assaults against Afghan security forces.
The insurgents managed to briefly capture an Afghan army post during Tuesday’s fighting but it was quickly retaken by security forces, army spokesman Hadi Jamal told AFP.
The defence ministry said 40 Taliban fighters were killed and 50 others wounded in the Kunduz assault.
Afghan officials and the Taliban frequently exaggerate claims of casualties.
The Taliban briefly captured Kunduz, a strategic city not far from the Tajikistan border, twice before — in September 2015 and again a year later. An attempt last year failed. – AFP