Kunduz Still Held by Taliban, Locals Say, Despite Afghan Government Claims

02AFGHANISTAN-master675 KABUL, AfghanistanKunduz residents and provincial officials said the city remained in Taliban hands on Thursday, despite claims from the Afghan government that it had retaken the city. Kareema Sediqi, a member of the Kunduz provincial council, said that “the city is still in Taliban control,” but that Afghan security forces had advanced as far as a roundabout near the city’s entrance. Interviews with several residents suggested that the situation was fluid, with fighting continuing. Ms. Sediqi, who spoke from Kabul but was in contact with family members trapped in Kunduz, said, “The Afghan security forces are struggling against strong Taliban resistance from Taliban who are wearing A.N.A. uniforms,” referring to the Afghan National Army. 30AFGHANISTAN-facebookJumbo It is a common Taliban tactic to obtain uniforms of the government security forces and use them to confuse their enemies. The sudden fall of Kunduz on Monday stunned the Afghan government, which promised a quick counterattack. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, Sediq Sediqqi, wrote on Twitter that Afghan special forces “now control Kunduz City,” which they may have for a short time. He said that the city had been “retaken,” but also that it was still “being cleared” of enemy fighters. However, that claim was not supported by accounts from Kunduz residents. Ms. Sediqi said heavy fighting in Kunduz had started around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, when Afghan security forces entered the city. They were there for about eight or nine hours, she said, inspiring some residents to try to resume daily business on Thursday morning. But before residents had gone far from their homes, the Taliban counterattacked, wearing the uniforms of Afghan security forces, with some riding motorcycles and others driving captured Humvees and sports utility vehicles. They pushed back the Afghan forces, who remained on the city’s outskirts, according to Ms. Sediqi and some residents. Afghanistan-security-forces-in-Kuduz-city-against-Taliban-29-Jul-2015-Pho-Undercover-police-station-AA-513x239 Naseeb, 25, a Kunduz resident reached by telephone who identified himself by only one name, said he had just returned from taking a friend to a clinic for medical treatment. His friend had been trying to open his mobile phone shop when he was struck by shrapnel as the Taliban counterattacked, Naseeb said. Saad Mukhtar, the director of public health for Kunduz, said that since the city fell, his office had recorded 49 dead and 332 wounded in local hospitals, including civilians and members of the Afghan security forces. Hundreds of civilians and members of the government forces have been holed up in the airport south of Kunduz, and reinforcements sent from other provinces have been delayed or halted by Taliban resistance in outlying areas. 65CDB9BB-36EB-434A-B699-491753DFA2AA_cx0_cy9_cw0_mw1024_s_n_r1 Residents reached in parts of Kunduz Province beyond the city said that the Taliban remained in control in the district of Chardara. That district is one of the most strategically important in the province because a road to the largest city in Afghanistan’s north, Mazar-i-Sharif, runs through it. The government appeared to be trying to put its best face on the situation in the city of Kunduz, reporting only the progress by its forces, not the retreats. Mr. Sediqqi wrote on Twitter that there were “heavy enemy casualties,” but it was difficult to determine whether that was the case. Source