Taliban withdraw from Kunduz after days of fighting

(From the New York Times)

The Taliban announced that they had withdrawn completely from the northern city of Kunduz on Tuesday, ending their first takeover of any Afghan city during the last 14 years of war.

After overrunning the city on Sept. 28, the insurgents held onto it long enough to destroy government offices and facilities, hunt down opponents and allow prisoners to escape the city’s two prisons. But in the end, the Taliban abandoned their efforts to retain control after just 15 days.

Afghan security forces inspect scene of US airstrike in Kunduz during siege of city

Afghan security forces inspect scene of US airstrike in Kunduz during Taliban siege of city

In taking over Kunduz, the insurgents delivered a shock to hopes that the Afghan security forces could dependably defend the country’s most important cities. In Kunduz, several hundred Taliban fighters all but routed as many as 7,000 Afghan government defenders. The insurgents success there, and their advances across multiple provinces in recent weeks, have caused panic in other parts of the country.

Kunduz is now nominally within government hands, though the shift comes days after the government first claimed it had retaken the city. At several points of seeming government success, the Taliban surged back as fighting seesawed between neighborhoods in the northern provincial capital.

In recent days, the Taliban did appear to have been mostly pushed out of the city, at least during the day, and Kunduz government officials and some residents began returning to assess the damage, although few residents returned to their homes. As recently as Monday those officials were leaving the city at night to take refuge in the military base at the Kunduz airport.

On Monday night, according to Afghan officials, the insurgents made several attempts to destroy strategic bridges on the outskirts of the city, the Chardara Bridge and the Alchin Bridge, which would have isolated Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth-largest city, from surrounding districts and highways to other parts of the country. The officials said Afghan forces managed to save the bridges from destruction. Read more


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