Taliban on Saturday, August 31, launched major attacks on Afghan's key city, Kunduz, and have taken reportedly several hospital patients as hostages. The attack comes as the terror group and the US negotiate a peace deal for ending the 18-year war in the region.
According to reports, the Taliban launched attacks in the northern city since Friday night, which was then countered by Afghan forces, to deter the insurgent group from claiming territory over parts of the city. The region is strategically known to be a key region that would make access from northern Afghanistan to the capital city Kabul easier.
Conducting airstrikes by the US and Afghan forces have been difficult as officials said that the terrorists were seeking shelter in homes and hospitals.
"Security forces are repelling the Taliban attack on some parts of Kunduz city. Their top priority is to protect the civilians," said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Defence ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai told reporters that the terror group held patients as hostages and said: "We could very easily attack but we don't want civilian casualties."
The interior ministry, according to Reuters, said at least 34 Taliban terrorists were killed in ground and air operations in three areas of Kunduz city.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed today's attack.
The region, which has been seized, at least twice by the Taliban over the past two years were reclaimed after intense airstrikes conducted by the US and Afghan forces.
The Taliban has increasingly launched attacks as peace negotiations between the US and the insurgent group continue to find an agreement for the withdrawal of US troops and end the 18-year war.
US envoy for the Afghan negotiation, Zalmay Khalilzad is expected in Kabul in the upcoming days to push forth the terms of settlements with the Afghan President. The US is outlining a settlement with the Taliban as well as the Aghan government and hopes for a"gradual" withdrawal to avoid a political upheaval and re-establishment of the Taliban's reign.
Tensions between the terror organisation and the Afghan government have made negotiations between them difficult as the Taliban condemns President Ashraf Ghani's government and calls them a US puppet.
US President Donald Trump on Friday said the ongoing negotiations with the Taliban were "good" but updated that no such deal had been reached yet.
Despite Trump's remarks, sources in the Taliban told Reuters that the US demand of continuing to stay in the region and have military ties with the Afghan government was "unacceptable" as they demanded a complete withdrawal of foreign military forces.
A Kunduz lawmaker Fatima Azizi, told Afghan Ariana television channel on Saturday that the attacks are a reminder of the Taliban seizure of Kunduz in 2015 for two weeks and later in 2016 before Afghan forces backed by NATO drove them out of the region.
"We have lost the city in the past and know the Taliban can attack again from insecure areas," she said.
"Unfortunately, civilians are again the victims," she added.