Kunduz: Taliban take control of third Afghan provincial capital

The Taliban has captured the city of Kunduz, the armed group said, the third provincial capital the armed group has taken over in the last three days.

A Taliban statement on Sunday said it has captured the police headquarters, the governor’s compound and the prison in the city.

Sunday’s takeover comes after the group seized the provinces of Nimroz and Jowzjan in the last two days.

Kunduz had previously fallen to the group in 2015 and 2016.

On Saturday, the Taliban captured the city of Sheberghan, the city’s deputy governor said, a day after Zaranj, in Nimruz province, fell “without a fight”, according to its deputy governor.

The Afghan government authorities are yet to acknowledge the Taliban’s takeover.

Afghanistan’s defence ministry released a video of an Afghan commando saying the National Security Forces have been conducting coordinated operations in the province over the last 24 hours.

The commando said in the video that the Taliban suffered heavy casualties in these operations as “they were trying to take key points” in the province, adding that the armed group’s “dream” would not be fulfilled.

“You should be certain that the Afghan forces are with you,” the commando tells the people of Kunduz.

Though the Taliban has taken two provincial capitals since Friday, Kunduz – in the far north – would be the most significant to fall since the armed group launched an offensive in May as foreign forces began the final stages of their withdrawal.

Afghan government forces have reportedly abandoned the countryside but are now scrambling to defend a string of cities across the country.

The Taliban has gained vast parts of rural Afghanistan since launching a series of offensives in May to coincide with the start of the final withdrawal of foreign troops.