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Afghan civilians flee Kunduz as gun battles rage with Taliban

Published 06/10/2016

An Afghan National Army soldier shouts after firing a rocket towards Taliban positions on the outskirts of Kunduz (AP)
An Afghan National Army soldier shouts after firing a rocket towards Taliban positions on the outskirts of Kunduz (AP)

Civilians are fleeing the northern Afghan city of Kunduz to escape fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents, a battle that is now in its fourth day.

General Qasim Jungalbagh, the police chief in Kunduz province, said one Afghan soldier was killed and another three were injured in overnight fighting in the city.

He added that the insurgents have now been pushed back from the city's south.

The head of the provincial council, Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, said gun battles in the east and west of the city continued throughout the night.

As well as the continued fighting, shortages of food and water are also forcing people out of the city.

The US military spokesman in Afghanistan, Brig Gen Charles Cleveland, said Afghan commandos are clearing "isolated pockets of Taliban resistance" within the city.

Taliban fighters attacked the city early on Monday.

The fighting in Kunduz, located on a key national crossroads, has raised concern of a repeat scenario as last year, when it briefly fell to the Taliban.

Insurgents at the time held Kunduz for three days, then resisted Afghan and US forces for almost three weeks before the city was brought fully back under government control.

The city's hospital, which sits on the front line between government forces and the Taliban, was rocketed on Wednesday and its medical stocks destroyed.

Hospital director Marzia Salam Yaftaly said the facility had admitted 210 people since the fighting began, two of whom died.

Since Wednesday, about 1,200 people have left the city for neighbouring Takhar province.

Provincial refugee official Murtaza Hamdard appealed for urgent aid, and said: "Most of them are staying in school buildings or with other families, but some are living out in the open."

AP

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