Taliban conquer Kunduz | free press

Kabul (AP) – The militant Islamist Taliban have seized the northern province capital of Afghanistan, Kunduz.

The city fell after heavy fighting on Sunday, three provincial councilors and a resident of the German news agency confirmed. Kunduz is best known in Germany because the Bundeswehr had a large field camp nearby for many years. The Islamists had only recently been able to capture the city of Sar-i Pul.

The Taliban brought four provincial capitals under their control within three days. Since the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan in early May, the Taliban have launched several offensives. First they were able to make huge gains in territory, especially in rural areas.

long siege

They now control more than half of the country’s 400 or so districts as well as several border crossings. Lately, the fighting has increasingly shifted to the capitals of the 34 provinces.

Kunduz has long been under siege by Taliban fighters. Over the past two days, Islamists have intensified their attacks, provincial councils said. Apart from a military base about two miles from the city center and the airport, the Taliban now controlled the entire city. Government officials have fled there.

The people of the city had no water or food. They hid in their houses.

Kunduz, with a population of about 370,000, is also of great importance to the Bundeswehr, which withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of June after nearly 20 years. Here, German soldiers fought the Taliban for hours. Nowhere in Afghanistan have more Germans been killed than in Kunduz and neighboring Baghlan province. Last year there were about 100 German soldiers stationed in “Kamp Pamir”.

corpses on the street

The situation in the city of Sar-i Pul with an estimated 180,000 inhabitants is comparable to that in Kunduz. According to provincial governments, the Islamists have been in control of key government buildings since Sunday morning (local time). The security forces fought hard with them all night. However, when the second precinct fell, they left their posts and retreated to a military base a kilometer from the city center. Government officials are now also located at this military base. The Taliban fired mortar shells at them.

According to deputy Massuma Schadab, there are several corpses on the street. But no one dares to save them. Sar-i Pul has an estimated 180,000 inhabitants. The province, in which oil reserves are extracted, borders in the east with the provinces of Balkh with the capital Masar-i-Sharif and in the north with the province of Jausdschan. The government owns only the Balchab district in the province, the provincial councils said.

On Friday, the small provincial capital of Saranj in Nimrus on the Iranian border fell into the hands of the Taliban virtually without a fight. This was followed on Saturday by the town of Schiberghan in Jausdschan to the north, the seat of power of controversial former warlord and ex-Vice President Abdul Raschid Dostum, a leading anti-Taliban figure.

US continues air strikes

According to the Afghan Defense Ministry, the US, which has practically completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, continues to carry out air strikes in the country. A Taliban rally in the town of Schiberghan was attacked with B-52 bombers, a spokesman said on Twitter.

The US military mission in Afghanistan ends on August 31. According to US data, the withdrawal is more than 95 percent complete.

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