Afghan forces retake Kunduz center, but fighting continues on the outskirts


The Afghan army launched a bloody counter offensive after Islamic militants attacked the provincial capital in the north of the country. By Tuesday morning the army was asking residents to stay home for safety reasons.

Afghan forces have retaken downtown Kunduz, the provincial capital, from Taliban insurgents, but fighting continues on the city's outskirts.

Militants seized parts of the city center on Monday and Afghan forces counter attacked with a ground and air offensive, which NATO and local police said had driven the militants out of the city center by late Monday."The enemy is escaping and dead bodies are left on the battlefield," the Afghan Ministry of Defense said on its Twitter page.

Kunduz police chief Kassim Jangal Bagh confirmed Afghan forces were once again in control.

"The city center is now in our hands ... we are launching an attack to clean up the area," he told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

One source said the number of militants killed was in the "hundreds."

The Afghan Interior Ministry said one policeman had been killed and four wounded. The insurgents said they had killed multiple soldiers.

The Taliban attack came a day before a two-day conference begins in Brussels, aimed at providing renewed political and financial support for the Afghan government.

Some 70 countries and 20 organizations will meet to hash out a support regime for the next four years.

Day of violence
Heavy fighting broke out on Monday afternoon, during which time several parts of the city fell to the Taliban for a short time.
Unverified footage posted by the militants on social media appeared to show its fighters walking around empty streets, describing how they had captured army strongholds and taken prisoners.

Earlier in the day, DW Kunduz correspondent Ahmad Yama Shirzad described how "the Taliban are fighting over control of the governor's office, police headquarters and the National Directorate of Security [Afghanistan's primary intelligence agency] in Kunduz city."
The attack came a day before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is due to meet with world leaders in Brussels to secure additional financial aid for the war-ravaged country until 2020.
NATO spokesman Brigadier General Charles Cleveland said the situation in Kunduz was "fluid" and that the US had "multiple assets and enablers .... to provide support [to Afghan forces]."
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the US had conducted airstrikes in support of Afghan troops.

'No serious attack'
Davis added that the style of attack appeared to be part of a regular tactic used by the militant group.
"We see the Taliban go into these city centers, do a Western-movie style shoot-them-up, do some raiding, do some looting, raise a flag, and just as quickly as they do that, they are beaten right back out again," he said.
In September 2015, the Taliban gained control of the strategically important city for two weeks, a move which shocked the Afghan government and the international community.
A US airstrike during the fighting to retake the city hit a hospital operated by the charity "Doctors Without Borders" (MSF) on October 3, 2015 killing 42 people.