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Afghan security forces patrol, as battles were ongoing between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces in Kunduz. —AFP
Afghan security forces patrol, as battles were ongoing between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces in Kunduz. —AFP
Afghan security forces travel in a Humvee vehicle, as battles were ongoing between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces, in Kunduz, capital of northeastern Kunduz province. —AFP
Afghan security forces travel in a Humvee vehicle, as battles were ongoing between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces, in Kunduz, capital of northeastern Kunduz province. —AFP

KABUL: The Taliban captured the northern Afghan city of Kunduz in a massive assault Monday involving hundreds of fighters, and now control a major urban area for the first time since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

“Kunduz city has collapsed into the hands of the Taliban,” Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told the Associated Press.

The fall of Kunduz marks a major setback for government forces, who have struggled to combat the Taliban since the U.S. and Nato shifted to a supporting role at the end of last year.

Military reinforcements have been sent to Kunduz, where government forces managed to fend off a major Taliban assault earlier this year. “We are trying our best to clear the city as soon as possible,” Sediqqi said.

In a multi-pronged assault that took military and intelligence agencies by surprise, the insurgents sent hundreds of fighters into Kunduz, a once-wealthy city at a key Central Asian crossroads, where they seized government buildings and freed hundreds of prisoners.

Residents said the militants reached the main square 12 hours after launching their attack. They said photographs of President Ashraf Ghani and other leaders were torn down and the white flag of the Taliban was raised. They said residents were streaming to the airport in an effort to flee.

The deputy spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani had earlier described the situation in Kunduz as “fluid.” Zafar Hashemi said the president was “in constant contact with the security and defense leadership to provide them with guidance.”

“Our first priority is the safety and security of residents,” he said.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders said it had treated more than 100 wounded people in Kunduz since the assault began, including 36 who were “in critical condition, with severe abdominal and head injuries.”

The Taliban used social media to claim the “conquest” of Kunduz and reassure residents that the jobs of teachers, doctors and other civil employees, and their personal property, were safe. The Taliban have a history of brutality, and are known to ban women's education as well as music, movies and other trappings of modern life in areas they control.

Gen. Murad Ali Murad, the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, said the Monday attack involved a large number of Taliban drawn from across the north of the country and included foreign fighters. “Strategic areas, including the airport, are controlled by Afghan security forces,” he said.

“Reinforcements have already arrived and attacks on the insurgent positions will be launched soon,” he said without elaborating.

Sediqqi said the target of the Taliban assault was the city's main prison and police headquarters. “Security forces in Kunduz were prepared for an attack, but not one of this size, and not one that was coordinated in 10 different locations at the same time,” he said.

Analyst Faheem Dashty said Afghan security and intelligence agencies had been “caught by surprise” in what appeared to be a “big failure” of security and intelligence. “They were expecting a big attack but couldn't defend the city.”

The Taliban launched their spring offensive earlier this year with a major assault on Kunduz that also took government forces unawares and was repelled with the aid of reinforcements after days of heavy fighting.

Since then the Taliban are believed to have regrouped and allied with other insurgents, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and militants driven into Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan by a military assault on insurgent hideouts near the porous border.

A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss an ongoing military operation, said the U.S. military was aware the Taliban had taken control of a hospital and a number of government buildings in the city, and that both sides - the Taliban and government forces - had sustained a significant number of casualties.

Early indications were that the Afghan forces were in position to throw back the attackers and regain control of the city, although the outcome was still in doubt, the official said earlier on Monday, before the government announced the fall of the city.

The Kunduz assault highlighted the resiliency of the Taliban following the revelation earlier this year that their reclusive longtime leader Mullah Mohammad Omar died two years ago. A bitter internal dispute over the appointment of his successor, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, has yet to be fully resolved, but seems to have had little impact on the battlefield.

Comments (48) Closed

expat Sep 28, 2015 11:17pm

So just after one year of American troops pull out these savages are back in control. I wish Afghanistan President could have worked with Pakistan Government to root them out. But instead he calls Pakistan as state not a brotherly nation. What a jerk he is. Take all your 20 million refugees from Pakistan and claim such a thing.

Dr.Arshad Sep 28, 2015 11:20pm

After a while we will hear the cacophony of entire Afghan officialdom accusing Pakistan. It's a routine that after such setbacks they start blaming Pakistan.Pakistan in the meanwhile should distance itself from this God forsaken country and seal off Durand line.We no longer need any imagined strategic depth.

zash Sep 28, 2015 11:23pm

please ghani don't blame this on Pakistan you can talk peace with Taliban with the help of PAK but must hand over TTP leader to us first or Zarb e Azb is complete and I am sure our new savior Raheel Sharif will go to great lengths for Pakistan peace and prosperity

Asif Kashmiri Sep 28, 2015 11:34pm

these no good afgans with the help of RAW will start blaming Pak now.

Khan Sep 28, 2015 11:37pm

So much for India's planned investment at Chah Bahar to open up Central Asia. Afghanistan is not a safe transit corridor at all. Better we connect CPEC directly from China to Central Asia than to try including afghanistan. Also, TAPI pipeline should only go through Iran. Cut afghanistan out of it all completely.

Dr. Farooq Khan Sep 28, 2015 11:38pm

This is not a good news. Incompetent and weak state machinery of Afghanistan always created troubles for Pakistan. It is time to tell Ashraf Ghani that these your people and your problems, handle it by your way. We don't care about anyone anymore. We got our own problems and don't blame Pakistan. You wanted liberation and now you got it. So, protect it.

Ibrar Sep 28, 2015 11:41pm

This is really a sad development although not surprising. Given Taleban's historic rigid stance no one knows how to make them meet in the middle with the ruling lot. They seem to be convinced that they are a formidable and unbeatable force who had virtually forced the coalition forces eventually flee from Afghanistan. I think in the end the Afghan government has to fight them with their own forces or ask for help, there is no good in complaining and finding excuses against Pakistan which is being painfully squeezed between parties.

Shahid Khan Sep 28, 2015 11:47pm

This was bound to happen sooner or later. Taaliban mostly Pushtoons will never allow the present setup installed by the Americans and its allies to settle and govern the country. Afterall Afghanistan has Pushtoon majority and the present government does not enjoy the true representation of the population.

Jalbani Baloch Sep 28, 2015 11:49pm

Violence is returning and Afghanistan is again falling prey to Taliban, who are only bent upon destroying their country and nothing else. Pakistan must not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and extend all needed help and support to Afghan Army to defeat Talibans, while making in difference between Good and Bad Talibans. Let Pakistan strengthen its own border and ensure peace in its own country, as the nation has paid a heavy price for fighting a proxy war on the behest of western nations.

ali Sep 28, 2015 11:50pm

It shows the Taliban are not only strong and committed but their strategy and planning is far ahead of the ineffective Afghan government,The Taliban also wear Afghan forces uniforms as they blend in. The Afghan government does not know what to do accept blame others for their miseries.The Americans came in and created chaos which is still continuing after their departure.Clearing this city will be a tall order for the beleaguered untrained and corrupt Afghan forces.

AW Sep 28, 2015 11:55pm

The bottom line is that the Taliban will take over Afghanistan sooner or later because they enjoy the support of the indigenous population (fortunately or unfortunately). Ashraf Ghani's government has no leverage over Taliban so the Taliban have no reason to negotiate with the Kabul government propped up by the foreign powers.

Akhand Bharat Sep 29, 2015 12:05am

If only Ahmad Shah Masood was alive. What a hero he was.

Sunbal Sep 29, 2015 12:12am

It's all about corruption and injustice in the wider Afghan/Pakistan society where a few hundreds enjoy the fruit while the rest suffer in poverty and disease. We in Pakistan need to fight rampant corruption and injustices. This plague of corruption was brought to our country by the Afghan refugees 40 years ago and we need to fight it tooth and nail so that a just society can be established where everyone can enjoy freedom and equal opportunities. Why would some one take up arms and fight their own people?

Cyrus Sep 29, 2015 12:14am

Afghans don't have the stomach to fight for their own country. They never did have.

Cyrus Sep 29, 2015 12:17am

@Dr.Arshad ... The present Afghan government was just the Northern Alliance of tribes, and even that is breaking down now.

Mk Sep 29, 2015 12:23am

Seems to be a drama created by Afghans/NDS at a time when all world leaders are together for the 70th Unga meeting to attract more foreign funding and material support for their corruption

Cyrus Sep 29, 2015 12:26am

@Ibrar .... Before the US took over in Kabul the Taliban had tried to rob the Bank of Afghanistan twice with pickup trucks. Both times they could not get the bank vault open. They thought the bank president kept the money under his mattress.

Cyrus Sep 29, 2015 12:27am

@AW ... The farmers feed them at the point of a gun.

az Sep 29, 2015 12:30am

A northern city is a remote target for mainly south based Taliban. It signifies much more than what we can see in the first look. Get ready for a new coming!

Shah Saab Sep 29, 2015 12:36am

American architecture and Indian engineering make their own Waterloo at the cost of Afghans.

ukz Sep 29, 2015 12:37am

Looks like no sustainable solution for Afghanistan. Ghani should stop playing in the hands of India and should cooperate with Pakistan by handing over wanted TTP terrorists to Pakistan and should make sure that afghan soil shouldn't be used by RAW to destabilize Pakistan's Baluchistan. Ghani should admit that without Pak support they can resolve nothing.

Nasir Khan Sep 29, 2015 12:39am

I forget the name of x.cheif of their intelligence agency, who was talking against Pakistan.

just_someone Sep 29, 2015 12:40am

Afghanistan Govt needs to recognize its place and stop being deluded. They cant achieve anything through might, they have to talk and they can get the best deal by involving Pak and pushing Pak through US/China. If Afghans dont realize this soon, there will be no country left for them to run

Ghaznavi Sep 29, 2015 12:43am

Please stay out of this mess. Deport all Afghans to their beloved country and seal the border. Let them trade with India and Iran. We don't need any part of Afghan issue playing on our soil. Also let the US come up with AF-India or AF-Iran policy, we dont need any part of such role.

Shahid Khan Sep 29, 2015 12:51am

@Cyrus No offence, but plz go through the Afghans history, infact they are the ones who have fought against the British raaj, the Soviet Union and in the recent past, the Americans and its allies of all the major Countries of the World. They Literally, booted them out of their country. Maybe its due to their pride, dignity or simple gallantry that the Afghans have never been defeated.

Yasir Sep 29, 2015 12:53am

Looks like its time for Ashraf ghani and Hamid Karzai to renew their Pakistani ID cards.

Carol Grayson Sep 29, 2015 01:09am

No surprise NATO and allies not just sleeping but in a coma? Another 7 to 800 prisoners freed, govt offices and private banks allegedly taken over however safety reassurances given to residents and companies ...and even officials if they "repent". Media forgot to report Taliban are issuing statements in Helmand to get boys and girls back into school as they claim they are missing their education. Given the appalling human rights record and widescale corruption of NATO allies it is clear some are happy to welcome the Taliban back!

Mustafa Sep 29, 2015 01:21am


If Afghans were scared of guns the Americans wouldn't have left Afghanistan, nor the Soviets before them.

East Indian Sep 29, 2015 01:21am

Unstable Afghanistan. bad news for the region

Mustafa Sep 29, 2015 01:28am


I don't think you understand the issues. Learn from history, Ghaznavi crossed Afghanistan to get where you live now.

@expat Sep 29, 2015 01:28am

Intra Afghan Dialogue without outsiders is the only solution to Afghan problem. Taliban are a stake holder in Afghanistan. The sooner it is realised the better.

Mohammad Saleem Sep 29, 2015 01:38am

The Afghan militant thugs will be repulsed and eliminated soon at the hands of the Afghan commando units already reached that area.

jjames Sep 29, 2015 02:30am

@Yasir Lolz, your comment made my day.

Rachit Sep 29, 2015 02:51am

Befor Ghani blames Pakistan, why doesn't Pakistani FO condemn the development? It won't as the ISI and others want to see Taliban in Kabul

Naser Sep 29, 2015 04:08am

@Shah Saab Pakistan should not enter into this.

Raja Farhat Abbas Sep 29, 2015 04:17am

@Yasir lol good comment ;-)

Hasan Peerzada Sep 29, 2015 04:32am

Afghanistan just does not have the manpower to enforce another Khunduz airlift.

Ahsan Peerzada Sep 29, 2015 04:33am

No more Khunduz airlift, what are you gonna do Ghani?

Ayub Khan Sep 29, 2015 04:59am

Good or bad, the reality that Taliban is powerful force must be recognized.

Imtiaz Sep 29, 2015 06:24am

@Rachit Pakistan is already paying the price of such alliances and will pay even more in future for strategic stupidities.

Dr Mazhar Sep 29, 2015 07:23am

Is this the outcome of 15 years of US led western invasion on Afghanistan at the expense of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars?

Jawad Sep 29, 2015 07:23am

Pakistan must tighten its security on border and never let any afghani enter into Pakistan.

Azhar Sep 29, 2015 07:24am

@Ayub Khan true

Reshma Hashimi Sep 29, 2015 07:34am

nothing new here. Battle of the stone age neanderthals continues....

Shahid Khan Sep 29, 2015 08:27am

Sooner or later the Afghan Talibaan will liberate Afghanistan from goons of the Americans and the Indians. History literate will agree with me that you just cannot dictate or plant your goons over the majority Pukhtoon population in Afghanistan. Earlier, British tried and failed, Soviets or rather USSR then tried and failed and in the end Americans, NATO and their Allies with all their might and latest war machinery failed against a not so well equipped Talibaans. For how long will the world powers with media in their control can feed lies to the world with their negative propaganda that maybe Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, etc is yet to be seen..?

Aziz A Sep 29, 2015 09:07am

@Khan Chahbahar is in Iran, not Afghanistan. Learn to read a map.

niju Sep 29, 2015 03:00pm

a joint south Asian region armed force should be installed to bring security and peace in the region.

zainab saeed Sep 29, 2015 09:03pm

This shows the incompatibility of Afgan government that Talibanization is again rooting and making room in Afganistan.Pakistan has paid a lot for this afgain war. We have their on issues and no time to pay attention in Afgan Affir.