KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) — In the wake of Taliban advance in parts of the strategically important Kunduz province along the border with Tajikistan over the past one week, Afghan Defense Minister General Abdullah Habibi visited the beleaguered Kunduz city on Sunday and vowed to smash insurgents in the province and adjoining areas.
After meeting with local officials and military commanders, General Habibi told journalists that the government forces would soon launch major offensive to destroy Taliban and all anti-government militants across Kunduz.
The visit of the defense minister to Kunduz provincial capital the Kunduz city took place after the Taliban militants overrun vast areas in Qala-e-Zal district and captured Khan Abad district on Friday blocking the road linking Kunduz to the neighboring Takhar province.
Scores of Taliban and government forces have been killed for control of Kunduz over the past week.
According to Kunduz provincial governor Assadullah Omarkhil, more than 70 Taliban fighters have been killed and more than 50 injured over the past week. He also confirmed that 10 government soldiers had lost their lives over the period.
Government forces, according to governor Omarkhil, has recaptured Khan Abad district forcing militants to flee.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Afghan Army Staff, General Murad Ali Murad, who is leading operations in Kunduz against the Taliban, told reporters on Sunday that his top priority is to eliminate Taliban and destroy their sanctuaries throughout Kunduz province.
Government forces, according to General Murad, would soon launch counter-offensive to retake all the areas controlled by Taliban insurgents.
General Murad also vowed that only “dead and weakened Taliban will have a place in Kunduz afterwards” and the remaining Taliban rebels would be eliminated in Kunduz province.
Taliban militants, however, on Sunday morning blown up Alchin Bridge which connects Kunduz city with Imam Sahib, Dasht-e-Archi districts and Sher Khan Port and affected logistic supplying system to government forces.
Zabihullah Majahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit in contact with media on Saturday claimed capturing Khan Abad, Qala-e-Zal and Sher Khan port, but on Sunday he is tightlipped on the situation.
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