Local residents reported clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents in the provincial capital’s central square.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the group’s fighters staged an assault on Afghan forces in the early morning and fighting was continuing in several key parts of Kunduz.
Insurgents had briefly overrun the city a week ago in a surprise offensive, but Afghan forces wrested back control in a counteroffensive three days later and have since claimed to have flushed out Taliban militants.
However, hostilities have since continued in parts of Kunduz while Taliban insurgents have also captured several districts in two nearby northern provinces and Afghan forces are battling to regain control of the lost territory.
Commander of the NATO-led military coalition in Afghanistan General John Campbell on Monday acknowledged that Afghan security forces are still fighting to remove the insurgents from Kunduz.
“Unfortunately, the Taliban have decided to remain in the city and fight from within, knowingly putting civilians at significant risk of harm,” the general told reporters in Washington.
He said coalition forces are in the area to provide training, advice and assistance to the Afghan forces.
“While our personnel are not directly engaged in the fighting, they’re providing valuable support to the Afghans,” said Campbelll.
Investigation into airstrike
General Campbell also explained circumstances that led to a U.S. airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz run by the international charity, Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
“We have now learned that on October 3rd, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S forces. An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several casualties were accidently struck,” he said.
The hospital in Kunduz after an alleged U.S. airstrike Saturday killed at least 19 people, including three children, according to officials with the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF.
He said that a previous statement claiming that the airstrike was conducted on behalf of American forces because they were receiving direct fire from enemy fighters was incorrect.
Twelve MSF, French acronym for the hospital, staff and 10 patients, including three children were among at least 22 people killed in the attack.
General Campbell would not discuss further details about the incident until separate ongoing probes into the incident by NATO, Afghan and U.S. officers are concluded.
The charity group has condemned the airstrike as a “grave” violation of International Humanitarian Law.
MSF General Directory, Christopher Stokes, while responding to Campbell’s remarks, noted that the U.S. description of the attack keeps changing.
He said the discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, point to the critical need for a full transparent independent investigation.
“The U.S. military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack,” Stokes asserted.
MSF and the United Nations human rights chief have said the incident could be a war crime.
However, the U.N. said Monday it would wait for the outcomes of ongoing investigations before deciding whether to support an independent probe.
MSF has also rejected Afghan claims Taliban insurgents had setup a base in the hospital, prompting them to ask for the airstrike.
Residents and aid workers say that recent heavy fighting in Kunduz has caused massive destruction to the infrastructure and conditions in the city are not fit for living.
Afghan officials say the hostilities have prompted thousands of families to flee for safer cities.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the overnight attack in Kabul on a building it claimed belonged to the Afghan intelligence agency.
Authorities in the capital city announced Tuesday morning that security forces killed all three suicide bombers to end the 10-hour long siege.
Seven police officers were also injured during the operation, they confirmed, without giving more details.