Afghan forces retake district from Taliban

Afghan forces retake district from Taliban

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (APP) - Afghan forces have recaptured a district that had fallen briefly to the Taliban , officials and residents said Sunday, after thousands of people fled their homes in Afghanistan's northeastern Kunduz province .

Khan Abad district , which is around 30 kilometres east of Kunduz city -- the provincial capital where militants last year scored their biggest ever victory -- had fallen to the Taliban after they launched a pre-dawn attack on the district centre on Saturday, according to local officials.

Several hours later Afghan special forces were deployed to the area -- a key route to Kunduz city -- to retake the district .

The district was recaptured by government forces on Saturday evening, according to Sayed Mahmood Danish , a Kunduz governor spokesman.

"Taliban are now being chased away. The threat to the city is gone. We are expanding our operations beyond the district ," Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told.

A shopkeeper in Khan Abad district , Khalid, told AFP that people were still worried about the Taliban making a return to the city.

"The roads are empty, few shops are open in the city. People do not have access to food and drinking water. We still cannot come out of our houses," he said.

Another resident, Mohammad Sahim, said the militants had looted and set fire to government buildings.

"People are in fear, you don't see many people in the streets, schools are closed," he said, adding that there is a danger of food shortages.

The Taliban briefly captured Kunduz city in September last year, the first city to fall to the insurgents in their biggest victory in 14 years of war.

The militants were driven out almost two weeks later by Afghan forces backed by US aircraft and NATO soldiers , but it marked the first time since 2001 that the Taliban were able to take control of a major city in the country.

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