Afghanistan: Militants seize northern Afghan cities as battles rage on

Afghanistan: Taliban fighters seized most of the capital of northern Afghanistan’s key Kunduz province on Sunday, and took another neighboring provincial capital after a month-long siege. The advances were the latest in a series of blows to government forces as the United states troops complete their pullout after nearly two decades in the country.

The provincial council members said the Taliban took control of the governor’s office and police headquarters after a day of firefights, as well as the main prison building, where 500 inmates including Taliban fighters were freed. The militiamen planted their flag in the main square of Kunduz city, where it was seen flying atop a traffic police booth, a video obtained by the Associated Press showed.

Kunduz’s capture would be a significant gain for the Taliban and a test of their ability to take and retain territory in their campaign against the Western-backed government. It was the fourth provincial capital to largely succumb to Taliban fighters in less than a week, as they ramp up a push across Afghan’s regions, and wage an assassination campaign in the capital, Kabul. It is one of the country’s larger cities with a population of more than 3,40,000, and was a key area defended against Taliban takeover by Western troops over the years.

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