Coalition special forces battle Taliban insurgents in Kunduz

Afghan special forces arrive in Kunduz
Afghan special forces arrive in Kunduz  Photo: AP

Coalition special forces were battling the Taliban in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Wednesday after being attacked by militants while advising local troops.

The troops are officially part of a rump force that stayed on to advise and train the Afghan National Army after with the withdrawal of Nato forces, and are not normally expected to become engaged in combat.

But Nato said they came under attack from Taliban fighters outside Kunduz early on Wednesday morning, forcing them to act in self-defence. "Our service members have the right to protect themselves if necessary,” said Colonel Brian Tribus, a Nato spokesman.

The Ministry of Defence denied reports in local media that British troops were among those involved. "We can confirm that we have no UK personnel involved in the operations around Kunduz," a spokesman said.

A Taliban fighter sits on his motorcycle adorned with a Taliban flag in a street in Kunduz
A Taliban fighter sits on his motorcycle adorned with a Taliban flag in a street in Kunduz  Photo: AP

The US carried out two airstrikes outside the city against Taliban targets on Tuesday night, but did not provide further details.

The Afghan government announced one airstrike had killed Mawlawi Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, his deputy and at least a dozen other Taliban fighters, although it was unclear if that airstrike had been carried out by the US.

In addition to holding their ground in the city, the Taliban also managed to unleash a serious assault on the airport, the last area in Kunduz city under government control after the Taliban began their assault on Monday night.

Taliban fighters walk on a street in Kunduz a day after they took control of the city
Taliban fighters walk on a street in Kunduz a day after they took control of the city  Photo: AP

Throughout Tuesday night there were serious fears that the airport could fall, as Taliban fighters reportedly made it to the front gate.

An Afghan security official at Kunduz airport, speaking on the basis of anonymity, described the the airport as “completely surrounded” by militants.

The Taliban disrupted efforts by Afghan security forces to send additional reinforcements, by attacking convoys coming into Kunduz with roadside bombs.

A local resident, who did not wish to be named out of fear of retribution, told The Daily Telegraph that fierce battles had raged in Kunduz throughout Tuesday evening.

“There were a lot of aerial bombardments outside the city, and ground troops fighting close to the main square,” he said. The Taliban had suffered casualties, he added, saying he had seen several bodies lying in the street.

As dawn broke yesterday over Kunduz city, remaining Taliban fighters emerged from residential homes, taking up positions again in the main square. Militants told residents that more Taliban reinforcements were expected to arrive.

In Kunduz, many citizens remained trapped, unable to leave due to the fighting and numerous Taliban checkpoints set up around the city. There were also reports of executions and abductions.

Médecins Sans Frontières, which operate the main trauma hospital in Kunduz, said they had been “inundated with patients”, with the injured spread out throughout the wards, and even in offices and corridors. Many had gunshot wounds, including children, said Guilhem Molinie, MSF’s country representative in Afghanistan.

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Source : telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk
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