News ID: 128923
Published: 0524 GMT October 13, 2015

Taliban pulls back from Kunduz amid clashes in Ghazni

Taliban pulls back from Kunduz amid clashes in Ghazni

The Taliban says its militants are retreating from the northern city of Kunduz, which fell to the militant group briefly late last month.

But Taliban spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday, "We assure our people and the world that we are able to seize the city."

"Pulling back from Kunduz city and government compounds is based on consultation in order to protect civilians from bombings and prolonging it is a waste of humans and ammunitions [sic],” added Zabihullah Mujahid's statement. 

Kunduz witnessed heavy clashes between Afghan government forces and Taliban militants after the latter stormed the city on September 28 and held it for three days before being driven back.

The embattled city’s police chief Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh, meanwhile, said the city center has been cleared and residents who had to leave it over fighting have started to come back.

"Getting the city back to normal, Afghan government forces are removing the destroyed vehicles and roadblocks from the city," he noted.

Clashes in Ghazni

Meanwhile, as the situation in Kunduz is going back to normal, fresh clashes have erupted in Ghazni, a provincial city located south of Kabul on Highway One which links the capital to the southern city of Kandahar.

Hundreds of Taliban militants attacked the city on Monday and although it was fended off by security forces, fighting continued in nearby villages and the highway was blocked.

"There are hundreds of cars, buses stuck in the Nawrak area of Zabul since yesterday morning," said Sayed Abdullah, a traveler, said.

Kunduz Province is strategic as it is located on a crossroads that connects key regions of the country. It is also located along the country’s border with Tajikistan and could offer the militants the opportunity to establish a base in the country’s north.

The brief seizure of Kunduz was a stark warning of how far the Taliban has extended its influence into regions once thought secure, stretching government forces and piling pressure on President Ashraf Ghani's fragile national unity government.

The Taliban offensives against Kunduz and Ghazni represent a sharp escalation in Taliban’s influence since they were toppled in 2001.

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