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Afghan Forces Battle Taliban In Kunduz


Afghan security forces keep watch in front of their armored vehicle in Kunduz city on October 4.

Fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants has moved into a second day in the northern city of Kunduz.

Taliban fighters launched an assault on Kunduz early on December 3, about a year after briefly capturing the city.

Officials said on October 4 that fighting was ongoing in the outskirts of Kunduz but that the city center had been cleared of militants.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said gunmen were hiding out in residential homes, making progress slow and difficult.

Kunduz police chief Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh reported that "hundreds” of militants and three members of the government security forces had been killed in the fighting.

It was not immediately possible to confirm the toll.

The head of the Kunduz provincial council, Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, said the city has become a battlefield, with fighting raging in various neighborhoods on October 4.

"We can't go to our (council) office because the area is under the control of the Taliban," he said, adding that council members instead were gathering at a location just outside the city.

Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, said the Afghan military had moved reinforcements into Kunduz overnight.

"While there is sporadic fighting, the government controls Kunduz," he said. "U.S. forces ... will provide support as needed."

Cleveland said there had been no U.S. air strikes overnight but U.S. forces did engage some insurgents. "There was one U.S. air-to-ground engagement by helicopter on the outskirts of Kunduz city to defend friendly forces," he said.

The Taliban assault came ahead of an international donor conference starting in Brussels later on October 4, where Afghanistan's international partners will discuss aid to the country.

Based on reporting by dpa, AP, and AFP

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