Fighters of the radical Islamic Taliban launched a large-scale attack on the northern Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz on Saturday night. According to Ghulam Rabbani, a provincial council member, the attack began around 1 o’clock in the morning. The Taliban could have taken several facilities and areas in the city, including the Provincial Hospital, the Electricity Supply Center and the city’s third police district.
According to Rabbani, the Taliban fighters had entrenched themselves in houses and fought with the security forces. Helicopters circled over the city. The Afghan police and army are on the defensive because they want to protect the lives of civilians. There are dead and injured police and civilians, but the number is still unclear. The electricity in the city was also turned off, telecommunications connections were interrupted. If the situation continues, the city may once again fall to the Taliban, Rabbani said.
The Taliban control large parts of the province of Kunduz. As part of the NATO Resolute Support mission, a small group of German soldiers are still there to support the Afghan army.
The attack took place in the midst of ongoing talks between the Taliban and the United States over a political solution to the nearly 18-year conflict. Most recently, both sides had shown optimism that they would soon reach an agreement. US President Donald Trump had announced on Thursday that even after a possible peace agreement with the Taliban initially 8600 American soldiers remain in the country.
Kunduz had already briefly fallen to the Islamic militants in September 2015 and 2016. The Afghan security forces were only able to recapture the city with the support of American airstrikes. Provincial councilors said on Saturday that they had repeatedly warned of a renewed militant attack on the city in recent weeks and months.