Story highlights >
- Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz “largely in hand of enemies,” interior ministry spokesman says.
- Taliban freed more than 500 prison inmates in Kunduz, police spokesman says
- Attack began in early morning and lasted into the evening, before waning, official says
- At least four civilians reported killed; 25 Taliban fighters dead, 2 Afghan policemen killed, official says
Report from CNN state that the Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz has largely fallen into “the hand of enemies,” Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said late Monday.
Sediqqi had said earlier that Afghan security forces, backed by air power from the Afghan army, were holding Taliban insurgents who were targeting a prison at bay, the provincial police chief’s compound and some other targets.
Fighter planes still were flying over Kunduz, but the gunfights had ended, and authorities were preparing to recapture the city from the Taliban as soon as possible, Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for the Kunduz police chief, said.
Earlier Monday, the insurgents seized the main roundabout in the city and made it to the prison, where they freed more than 500 inmates, who flooded the streets of Kunduz, Hussaini told CNN.
One of the released inmates told CNN, “We were hearing gunshots throughout the day, but it was 4:00 p.m. when the Kunduz prison guards left the compound. Then, the inmates broke all the doors and fences and started running towards the main gate.”
“As soon as we opened the main gate, we saw a group of armed Taliban outside the gate. They told us that we were free and could go home. … We all headed towards our homes,” he said.
The Taliban also claimed to have seized a 200-bed hospital — posting photos to social media that they claimed proved their control of the facility.
Sediqqi said at least four civilians had died and 50 others were wounded as Taliban forces were firing heavy weapons indiscriminately throughout the city.
In addition, 25 Taliban fighters were killed, Sediqqi said, and two Afghan policemen died and four others were wounded.
Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour issued a statement, congratulating fighters for successfully taking over Kunduz, and urging them to keep residents safe.
“All mujahideen (Taliban fighters) after taking over military targets and finishing the military operation should put their attention on keeping the lives, wealth and dignity of common people safe. Most of the times some opportunists and burglars misuse such opportunities to harm civilians and their wealth. Mujahideen should be conscious and shouldn’t allow anyone to harm the lives and wealth of civilians and the public wealth,” the statement read.
The aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said Monday that its trauma center in Kunduz had received 66 patients, including eight who were declared dead on arrival and 17 who were in critical condition.
Monday’s assault is the latest in a series of clashes between Taliban and government fighters in the northeastern province.
Taliban forces, boosted by an influx of fighters from Pakistan and elsewhere, have battled government forces throughout the province since spring.
The assault comes a day after a suicide bombing killed at least nine in the eastern province of Paktika. The Taliban denied responsibility for that attack.