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Afghan Forces Seek to Regain Kunduz, Major Northern City, From Taliban
A day after the Taliban took their first major city in 14 years, a counterattack was underway Tuesday, but ground forces sent from other provinces to recapture the northern city, Kunduz, were delayed by ambushes and roadside bombs, officials said.
American forces carried out an airstrike outside the city Tuesday morning, said Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for the United States forces in Afghanistan. He did not specify the target, but said the strike was carried out to eliminate a threat to coalition and Afghan forces.
Ghulam Rabbani, a member of the Kunduz provincial council, said ground forces from Kabul and the northern province of Balkh had been repeatedly ambushed by the Taliban on their way to Kunduz. Some of the reinforcements were waiting in nearby Baghlan to meet with the forces from Kabul, said Col. Abdul Qahar, an Afghan Army spokesman in the north.
Other Afghan security forces at the outlying Kunduz airport, including about 300 commandos who had arrived by air, began to press toward the city center early Tuesday morning, but their progress was slow, officials said. Most of the city remained under Taliban control, with security forces having taken back only a few government buildings.
Insurgents roamed the city freely with chants blaring from their vehicles' loudspeakers, according to residents reached by telephone. In a victory statement, the Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, promised that his forces would not commit the sort of atrocities for which the Taliban are known.
"The citizens of Kunduz city should be aware that the Islamic Emirate has no intention of transgressing against their personal property, carrying out extrajudicial killings, looting or breaching the inviolability of homes," he said in the statement.
But the looting of institutions and businesses continued Tuesday, including the United Nations regional branch, the Afghan intelligence agency's provincial office, two radio stations and a number of car dealerships. Even broken-down cars were being towed out of dealerships, residents said. A vault at the central bank's Kunduz branch was blown up early Tuesday morning, residents said.
"The Taliban are strolling around freely like this is their home," said Mr. Rabbani, the council member, who like many Kunduz officials had retreated to the airport but was in touch with residents. "They took a lot of weapons from the intelligence agency's office, weapons that were stocked for arming pro-government militias. We fear that there was cash and vehicles also."
One man accused of being a thief, his mouth covered with material that bore illegible writing, was marched by Taliban fighters to the main city square, a resident said. He was forced to repent, and was freed after elders intervened and the man promised not to steal again.
While the Afghan government has vowed to retake Kunduz soon, many analysts and officials predict a difficult fight ahead. The Taliban have penetrated residential areas, which make it costly to carry out airstrikes and operations involving heavy weaponry.
Additionally, because the insurgents have long controlled most of the districts surrounding the city and have been able to threaten highways in the neighboring provinces, it could be difficult for the Afghan government to resupply and reinforce its troops.
[Source: By Mujib Mashal, The New York Times, Kabul, 29Sep15]
War in Afghanistan & Iraq
|This document has been published on 01Oct15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|