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Taliban attack on Kunduz city left 80 people dead amid ongoing peace talks

AT News Report

KABUL: Taliban massive attack against capital city of northern Kunduz province left 80 people dead and another 70 injured with the city remaining shut down for the entire day with all offices and business closed, several officials said.

The city was attacked from three different directions at 1:30am in which hundreds of Taliban fighters rushed on the positions of the security forces, igniting a clash that continued for the entire day.

Taliban captured some neighborhoods of the city at first hours of the attack, before being pushed back by the police and army special forces’ reinforcement during the first half of the day, security officials in Defense and Interior ministries said Saturday.

“Taliban are using civilian houses and civilians as human shields and they still have presence in at least two locations in northern parts of the city” Interior Ministry spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi told a press conference in Kabul.

At least 56 Taliban fighters were killed in the counter-attack and airstrikes of the security forces, Rahimi said.

24 civilians and members of the security forces including provincial police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini were also “martyred” in the clash and a suicide attack that happened against provincial police chief, Manzour Stanekzai, during a press briefing in central part of the city, interior ministry and local officials said.

70 people mostly civilians were admitted in provincial hospitals, who were wounded in today’s clashes in the city, health officials said.

During the day, the city was completely paralyzed with all offices and shops remaining closed and public services including electricity and telecommunication unavailable for the citizens.

A number of citizens in vulnerable parts of the city fled homes to safe parts of the province.

However, security officials said that clearance operation will take time as Taliban are hiding in civilian houses and they have to move slowly to prevent civilian casualties.

President Ashraf Ghani in a statement condemned the Taliban attack on Kunduz city. He called the attack in contradiction with what Taliban discuss on the peace table in Doha with the United States.

Taliban claimed to have killed and injured at least 40 members of the security forces in Saturday’s attack and have captured at least 38 security check points as well. The claim was rejected by government officials.

This has been the third time in past five years Taliban attack Kunduz city, which is considered the gate way of northeastern Afghanistan and transit route to neighboring Tajikistan. The city was briefly captured by Taliban in September 2015 for the first time who then attacked several times but failed to completely capture it.

The attack on Kunduz city comes at a time that Taliban and United States are working to finalize an agreement in Doha. The agreement is expected to open way for intra Afghan talks and pave the way for withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, after 18 years of war.

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