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Taliban launches attacks in Kunduz amid talks with U.S.

Afghan security forces arriving in Kunduz during a fight against Taliban on Saturday.

Afghan security forces arriving in Kunduz during a fight against Taliban on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: AP

At least three civilians are killed and 41 wounded

Taliban forces attacked the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Saturday, setting off hours of gun battles, even as U.S. negotiators move closer to finalising a deal with the insurgents for the withdrawal of American troops from the country.

Heavy fighting began in Kunduz after Taliban fighters attacked from several directions early in the morning, forcing Afghan forces to rush in reinforcements to prevent the insurgents from gaining control of the city.

At least three civilians were killed and 41 wounded were taken to hospitals, said Ehsanullah Fazli, head of the public health department in Kunduz city.

36 insurgents killed

Government officials in Kunduz and Kabul said the Taliban was seeking shelter inside homes and some of the fighters had entered the main hospital in the city.

The Interior Ministry said at least 36 Taliban insurgents were killed in ground and air operations in three areas of Kunduz city and clearance operations were under way.

An air strike in Zakhil area killed 20 Taliban, including two commanders, Afghan security officials said. Taliban spokesmen were not immediately available to confirm the casualty figures.

“Security forces are repelling the Taliban attack on some parts of Kunduz city. Their top priority is to protect the civilians,” said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that Afghan forces were under heavy pressure in different parts of the city.

The fighting in Kunduz, which the Taliban came close to capturing twice in recent years, came as expectations have grown that U.S. and Taliban negotiators in Doha were close to securing an agreement that would see a timetable for the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 11:27:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/taliban-launches-attacks-in-kunduz-amid-talks-with-us/article29310574.ece

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