Afghanistan: Airstrike kills 19 ‘Taliban’ in Kunduz

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SHAFAQNA - At least 19 suspected Taliban militants were killed in an airstrike carried out by Afghan air force in the restive Kunduz province Friday night, a police official said Saturday.

Provincial police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini said that the airstrike took place amid heavy fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in Char Dara district.

“Five out of 19 killed were identified as foreigners. At least one foreign woman is among the dead,” Hussaini added.

Afghan security forces reportedly reclaimed control of Char Dara district from the Taliban after days of fighting earlier this week. However, the adjacent district of Dasht-i-Archi remained in Taliban control.

The airstrike came after the Taliban seized two out of seven districts in Kunduz province on the border with Tajikistan, allowing the militant group to expand its territory in the northern region.

On Thursday, Afghan officials said that reinforcement forces had been sent to the province and a series of operations were currently under way to push militants out of Dasht-i-Arch district.

Earlier this week, Kunduz Governor Mohammad Omar Safi said that as many as 2,000 armed Taliban fighters, including Uzbeks, Chechens and Tajiks had attacked Char Dara district.

Thousands of local Taliban backed by foreign militants had stormed various districts of Kunduz province in April in an attempt to seize control of the province and its outlying districts. Hundreds of Taliban, Afghan security personnel and civilians have been killed and wounded while thousands of families have been displaced from their homes and villages since then.

In another development, the Taliban launched attacks on the Want Waygal district of eastern Nuristan province Friday morning and took control of the administration buildings and outlaying posts before Afghan security forces regained control of the district late afternoon.

Afghan Minister of Interior Noorullhaq Olumi addressing parliamentarians on Saturday said that Afghanistan was experiencing one of the bloodiest years since the Taliban regime collapsed in 2001.

“On average, 10 policemen have been dying on the battlefield daily,” Olumi said. “The situation will get more challenging in upcoming months,” he added.

Meanwhile, an Afghan intelligence agency said that its personnel busted an alleged terrorist network in western Nimroz province on the border with Iran.

Despite informal talks between government representatives and the Taliban in Norway, Qatar and Dubai, the fighting in Afghanistan has escalated following the launch of the Taliban’s so called spring offensive.

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