Afghan troops hold Kunduz city center as Taliban attacks continue

KUNDUZ , Afghanistan, Oct. 4 (UPI) — Afghan troops were able to repel Taliban militants who’d attacked the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan, officials said.

Neighborhoods in the provincial capital were overrun by Taliban forces in a concerted assault this week, but a defense of the city by Afghan forces, as well as defense of the governor’s compound by troops including U.S. military advisers, is succeeding, Kunduz province Governor Asadullah Omarkhel told the New York Times.

“The armed opposition are using people’s homes as shields, and that is why our clearance operations are slow, to make sure civilians are not harmed,” he said.

Police said at least 25 Taliban fighters have been killed in sporadic attacks.

Police precinct commander Shafi Zakhil told the newspaper by telephone: “I am in Fatema Zahra School, which is in front of the governor’s office, and it is the front line. U.S. forces are around the governor’s office and the police headquarters with their tanks. Taliban are on top of a building near the governor’s office and police headquarters.”

Officials initially downplayed fears the city, briefly controlled by the Taliban in 2015, was about to be overtaken again; Kunduz has been steadily bombed and attacked by Taliban forces since their removal. The Taliban’s quick re-entry into the city this week has raised doubts about the Afghan forces’ ability to protect urban centers. The main government administration buildings have not fallen into Taliban hands, and the military leadership issued warnings to Afghan troops not to abandon their posts, as many have done in prior assaults.

The U.S.-led NATO mission has also offered restrained statements about the situation in the city, saying only that “U.S. enablers, including air power, are in position and prepared to assist Kunduz as needed.”

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