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Taliban Enters Northern Afghan City, Captures Southern District

  • RFE/RL

Taliban fighters have entered the northern city of Kunduz hours after launching a coordinated attack on the city.

The militants attacked from four sides of Kunduz just after midnight on October 3, triggering heavy fighting with government forces.

The offensive comes about a year after the militant group briefly seized control of the provincial capital.

At least one policemen was killed and four others were wounded in the fighting, according to the Interior Ministry.

The head of the police coordination office in Kunduz, Mohammadullah Bahej, said the militants had been pushed back but fighting was continuing on the outskirts of the city.

A correspondent for RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in Kunduz reported that some fighting was taking place in the city.

Residents in Kunduz were quoted by Western media as saying that the Taliban had reached the city’s main square.

A member of the Kunduz provincial council, Amruddin Wali, told Ariana News that the Taliban had raised their flag in a central square.

The Taliban posted a video online apparently confirming they are inside the city.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid earlier said the attackers had captured several checkpoints in the city.

Reports said residents piled into cars to escape the city center and shops were shut.

Amnesty International called on all parties to the conflict to take precautions to protect civilians in the city.

"It is extremely worrying that Taliban fighters are exposing residents to attacks and sweeping them into a raging war, which has already cost them so much," Amnesty International's South Asia director, Champa Patel, said.

"Needlessly endangering civilians by launching attacks from their midst is prohibited under international law, and demonstrates the Taliban's utter disregard for civilian safety and right to life," Patel added.

Kunduz fell for a few days to the Taliban one year ago in a battle that the United Nations said left 289 people dead and hundreds more wounded.

Meanwhile, in the southern province of Helmand, officials said militants seized a district to the south of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, killing the local police chief.

A police official said the fighting in the Nawa district between security forces and Taliban militants was ongoing.

The attacks come ahead of an international donors conference starting in Brussels on October 4, where Afghanistan's international partners will discuss aid to the country.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa, and the BBC