October 3, 2016 - 10:13 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Taliban launched a coordinated attack on the city of Kunduz in northeastern Afghanistan on Monday morning, setting of a gunbattle with Afghan forces that was still underway hours later, officials said, the Associated Press reports.
There was no immediate information on any casualties so far in the assault.
Kunduz is the capital of the strategically important Kunduz province, a breadbasket region that borders Tajikistan to the north and sits on a major crossroad in the country.
The city was overrun by Taliban in September 2015, sending shockwaves through the country as it was the first time the militant group had taken a major urban center since launching the insurgency 15 years ago. Kunduz came under threat again in April, when Afghan forces aided by U.S. troops and air power pushed the Taliban back into the districts around the provincial capital.
Mahmod Danish, spokesman for the provincial governor in Kunduz, said the insurgents staged Monday's attack from different directions but that security forces managed to keep them at bay. Danish said the enemy was using residential areas in the assault and that "our security forces are being very careful to avoid civilian casualties while shooting back the enemy."
The Afghan air force was also supporting the ground forces in the fight, he added, stressing the Taliban were not able to overrun the city.
Mohammadullah Bahej, head of the police coordination office in Kunduz, said security forces were battling Taliban fighters on the outskirts of the city.
"The enemy is attacking from four different directions, but right now, the battles are underway in two areas on the outskirt of the city," Bahej added.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the Taliban had captured several checkpoints in the city.
Elsewhere on Monday, an Afghan soldier was killed when a bicycle bomb targeted an army vehicle in the country's capital, said Sadiq Muradi, a Kabul police official.
Three soldiers were wounded in the attack, he added. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the Kabul bombing.