Taliban fighters on Sunday captured two more provincial capitals as they gained ground in their fight to take over Afghanistan’s cities after seizing much of the countryside in recent months.
This included the capital of northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz province, including the governor’s office and police headquarters, and Sar-e-Pul, a provincial council member said.
The ministry of defence said government forces were fighting to retake key installations.
“The commando forces have launched a clearing operation. Some areas, including the national radio and TV buildings, have been cleared of the terrorist Taliban,” it said in a statement.
Kunduz is a strategic crossroads with good access to much of northern Afghanistan as well as the capital, Kabul, about 200 miles (335 kilometers) away.
Ghulam Rabani Rabani said fighting between insurgents and government forces had taken place around the governor’s office and police headquarters but that later the Taliban had taken over the two buildings. They also had control of the main prison building in Kunduz, he said.
Rabani said fighting was continuing at the city’s airport and other parts of the city. A Taliban surge has intensified as US and NATO troops wrap up their withdrawal from the country.
US calls in airstrikes to defend Afghan allies
US military aircraft have been hitting ground targets in Afghanistan in an effort to protect allies, according to US Central Command, as the Taliban makes rapid advances in the void left by withdrawing American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops. “US forces have conducted several airstrikes in defense of our Afghan partners in recent days,” US Air Force Major Nicole Ferrara, a US Central Command spokesperson, said by email.
She declined to provide specifics on the aircraft involved. President Joe Biden ordered B-52 bombers and AC-130 Spectre gunships to strike enemy fighters advancing toward Kandahar and other cities, the Daily Mail reported on Saturday. A National Security Council spokesman referred questions to the Defense Department.
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