Key Areas in 2 Northern Afghan Cities Fall Amid Clashes

Central parts of the city of Sar-e-Pul and many areas in Kunduz city have fallen to the Taliban after heavy clashes between the two sides.

Reports indicate that in Sar-e-Pul the governor’s compound, the police headquarters and the NDS office have fallen to the Taliban.

Local officials said that security forces are stationed in an army base in Sar-e-Pul and in Balkhab district of Sar-e-Pul, as well as in two areas in Kunduz. Other areas have fallen to the Taliban.

Taliban attacks on these two northern cities intensified over the last 24 hours after the Taliban took Sheberghan, the provincial capital in Jawzjan.

“The only remaining area is held by a regiment in the center of Sar-e-Pul province and (another) in Balkhab district,” said Behzad Haidarizada, a Sar-e-Pul resident.

“The central and local governments have paid no attention. The security forces did not even have food while they were under siege,” said Yar Mohammad Maihanparast, the head of the Sar-e-Pul residents’ council in Kabul.

Some lawmakers from Sar-e-Pul said the government’s inattention led to the fall of the city and the loss of dozens of large pieces of military equipment to the Taliban.

“The inefficient officials in Sar-e-Pul made the situation worse and provided the grounds for collapse. I believe that Sar-e-Pul collapsed due to a deal,” said Sayed Hayatullah Alemi, an MP from Sar-e-Pul.

Videos from Kunduz show people fleeing their houses to avoid firing from either side. The videos also show bodies lying on the road in the city of Kunduz.

The Taliban released videos showing they had overrun the main roundabout in the center of Kunduz city, an area that was taken over by the group two times in 2015 and 2016.

The governor’s compound, the police headquarters and the NDS office in Kunduz have all fallen to the Taliban. Fighting has intensified on Kunduz streets, sources said.

“The security agencies, especially the Defense Ministry, paid no attention and did not provide support,” said Nilofar Jalali Kofi, an MP from Kunduz.

But security forces pledged that they will defend the city of Kunduz and its residents against Taliban attacks.

“The enemy suffered heavy casualties in areas they were attempting to capture,” said Haji Mohammad, the commander of the 2nd regiment of commando troops in Kunduz.

“Efforts are underway to make the situation normal in those provinces,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman.

Lawmakers from Sar-e-Pul and Kunduz warned that neighboring cities of the two provinces will also fall to the Taliban if the government does not pay the required attention to protect northern areas.