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Taliban launch massive attack on Kunduz as peace talks with US continue

Taliban launch massive attack on Kunduz as peace talks with US continue
The Taliban has launched a huge attack on Kunduz, Afghanistan, as the US continues peace talks with the group in Qatar. Fighting is ongoing, with dozens of militants and three civilians killed, and over 40 civilians injured.

Taliban fighters descended on the city from multiple directions at about 1am Saturday and took over a number of buildings, including a hospital, where staff were taken hostage.

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“We could very easily attack but we don't want civilian casualties,” the country’s defense ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said, Al Jazeera reports

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman told reporters that the group is in the city and has been capturing one government building after another.

Civilians are sheltering in their homes and electricity has been cut. Afghan authorities say that the militants are hiding in civilian dwellings, making it difficult to fight them. 

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Afghanistan’s interior ministry said at least 36 Taliban fighters have been killed, but did not reveal government casualties. Kunduz police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini told AFP that commando forces were at the scene and the fighting was ongoing, while the air force is supporting ground troops. 

The Taliban, which currently controls about half of the country and is at its strongest since the US invaded in 2001, wants all foreign fighters, of which there are about 20,000, to leave Afghanistan. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the US will “always have a presence there,” but that it would reduce its troops from about 14,000 to 8,600.

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