All government buildings captured in Kunduz by the Taliban have been retaken by Afghan security forces following a joint operation, officials said.
“We have recaptured Kunduz city,” an official said, speaking to dpa by phone from the governor’s building previously under Taliban control.
“There is some sporadic firing in some areas of the city, because some of the Taliban have hidden in civilian houses,” he added.
The Taliban overran Kunduz, a city of 300,000 people, after a surprise assault on Monday involving hundreds of fighters, pushing government forces back to the local airport.
Most of the government forces and officials were besieged on the airport’s hill as the insurgents launched further assaults and ambushed reinforcements sent from the capital.
Danishi says some 600-700 Afghan security forces participated in the joint operation, killing 136 Taliban, among them two Pakistanis and 10 Arabs and Chechens.
He also said foreign forces participated in the ground combat operation and supported the Afghan troops with airstrikes.
“The foreign soldiers are still with us in the city,” he said.
He said he could not confirm the number of casualties on Afghan forces, “but I am pretty sure it is in the low figures because it was a well-planned and well-executed operation.”
Essa Khan, a resident of Kunduz near the airport base, said he saw the Americans leading the frontlines.
“They find the Taliban hideouts, and ask for an airstrike. The Afghan ground forces are fighting alongside the US troops,” Khan said.
He added that the city was calm in the afternoon but they could hear some gunshots every now and then.
“The markets are still closed,” Khan said.
Residents of Kunduz reported bodies of rebel fighters as well as evidence of city-wide looting after the Taliban were pushed out by government forces.
“There are bodies of the Taliban on the streets… All the jewellery shops and banks are looted,” Shokrullah, a carpet seller, said.
Farhad, a grocery shopkeeper, said he had gone back to his shop after a four-day absence to find that insurgents had looted all of the goods inside.
“People have been harmed a lot,” said Hashmatullah Rasikh, a civil society activist in Kunduz. “Their homes were looted or burnt.”
Rasikh added that many people were starting to emerge from their homes after taking shelter from the violence for four days.
US special forces and NATO coalition advisors supported the Afghan troops in the retaking of the city from the militants, an Afghan official said Thursday on condition of anonymity.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents made a tactical retreat from Kunduz because of the foreign involvement.
“Last night we retreated because the foreign forces engaged in the fighting,” Mujahid said. “We left the city for a few hours today … Now we have starting attacking the city again and will advance to the airport.”
In a live television conference, Afghan parliamentary speaker and Kunduz native Abdul Rauf Ibrahmi said that the fighting was ongoing in parts of the city.
“There is no water, no power, shops are all closed, hospitals are not functioning,” Ibrahmi said.
“We urge the president to continue the operation in villages and districts of Kunduz so that the terrorists and Taliban are totally cleared from there,” said Ibrahimi.
Local television showed Afghans coming out to the streets, and the Taliban white flag was replaced with the Afghan flag at the center of the city.
Kunduz was the first major city to be taken by the Taliban in the 14 years of conflict following their ouster in a 2001 US-led invasion. The city’s fall highlights the Islamist movement’s ability to mount large operations away from its rural strongholds.