KUNDUZ (AFGHANISTAN) – Afghan forces on Tuesday recaptured a key district close to the northern city of Kunduz, repelling Taliban fighters who had threatened to overrun their first provincial capital since being toppled from power in 2001.
Chardarah was captured by the Islamist militant group on Sunday, amid reports that they were moving closer to the provincial capital Kunduz city, reigniting concerns over its potential fall.
The Afghan army and police, backed by helicopter gunships, launched a counter-offensive from at least two directions early Tuesday, quickly advancing to take over the restive district, officials said.
“Chardarah has now been recaptured… 85 Taliban fighters including their commander Rahmatullah have been killed,” provincial governor Mohammad Omar Safi told AFP, adding that six Afghan soldiers were also killed in the fighting.
In a statement, the Afghan defence ministry confirmed the report, saying that sporadic fighting continued in small pockets inside the district as Afghan forces chased out the militants.
Afghan forces were also preparing to drive back the militants from Dasht-e-Archi, another district they lost on Monday, officials said.
The Taliban are yet to comment.
The Taliban launched their annual spring offensive in late April with a brazen assault in Kunduz province, coming close to overrunning it, but were beaten back by Afghan forces.
This year’s offensive marks the first fighting season in which Afghan forces are battling the insurgents without the full support of US-led foreign combat troops.
On Monday a Taliban car bomber and six gunmen launched an assault on the Afghan parliament in Kabul, with gunfire and explosions sending lawmakers scurrying for cover.
All of the assailants and at least two Afghan civilians were killed in the attack.(bangkokpost.com)