Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan city of Kunduz from multiple directions early Saturday morning, a Defense Ministry spokesman said — the first major Taliban assault on the provincial capital since 2016, CNN reported.
Armed clashes between the militants and Afghan forces have left dozens of Taliban dead, said Fawad Aman, a deputy spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense.
The Afghan Air Force responded with air strikes, Aman added. Afghan forces had cleared Kunduz of Taliban fighters by Saturday evening, he said, though fighting continued around the outskirts of the city.
Amad said 36 Taliban fighters were killed, 10 were injured, and 32 surrendered. He said he did not have details about civilian casualties.
The attack comes as the United States and Taliban representatives try to reach an agreement for American forces to leave Afghanistan. The Afghan government is not involved in those talks, which are taking place in Doha, Qatar.
Fatima Aziz, an Afghan lawmaker from Kunduz province, said heavy fighting has been going on in different parts of the city since 1:30 a.m. local time (5 p.m. ET).
She said electricity, water and telecommunication systems were down in the city and a lot of people were trapped. However, she said, a small number of civilians have managed to escape the city to the nearby districts. She said that there were reports of civilian casualties, but she didn’t know how many.