Fierce clashes erupted between the security forces and Taliban insurgents Friday night on the southern outskirts of Kunduz city, capital of Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz, police said.
“The fighting broke out in Bandar-e-Kabul and Saa Dara localities where the security forces were conducting patrol during a search operation,” provincial police spokesman, Sayyed Sarwar Houssaini, told Xinhua.
Militants fired rounds of rockets from outer sides of the city during the clashes, which struck several houses. One rocket hit a petrol station, triggering a huge fire in the area.
“The gunfight and rocket barrage have caused casualties. I cannot provide a precise number of deaths and injuries as the battle is still underway,” he said.
Hundreds of people, including some 200 civilians, have been killed and thousands others fled their houses since late September when Taliban militants stormed into Kunduz.
The government forces launched a counter-offensive to recapture the city earlier this month and major parts of the provincial capital have been recaptured from the Taliban militants.
“We have focused on a broader security plan. The cleanup operations have been going on. Our security forces are conducting house-to-house searches,” Brig. Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Ghafoori, a senior commander of provincial civil order police force, said.
“However, Taliban militants still remain in parts of the city. The militants are attacking troops from civilian properties.”
Ghafoori said the government has ordered security forces to avoid harming civilians. “Our security forces are making fresh gains. They will clear the city from militants, according to security plan, then our soldiers will clean the districts, and eventually will kick out Taliban from all Kunduz province.”