Afghanistan’s president was forced to briefly delay his trip to India after hundreds of Taliban attacked police and army check posts in the northern Kunduz province Monday.
During the delay, Ashraf Ghani met with NATO’s top commander General John Campbell.
The fighting began Friday to mark the opening of the Taliban’s spring offensive. The militant group claims to have gained ground in the provincial capital and its spokesman Zabiullah Mujhahid tweeted Monday it has entered a bazaar in Kunduz.
Meanwhile, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi told VOA the military had dispatched reinforcements to the area and “enough forces” are dealing with the situation.
He also claimed that at least 40 Taliban insurgents have been killed in the “clearing operations” underway since Sunday, while the Afghan military has lost five of its soldiers.
“There is nothing to be concerned about because Afghan forces are capable of defeating the enemy,” Sediqi said.
In another development, Afghan media reports President Ghani’s special envoy for provinces and reforms, Ahmed Zia Masood, survived a mortar attack while he was visiting northeastern Badakhshan province, where Taliban insurgents killed nearly two dozen Afghan security forces in clashes earlier this month.
Kunduz, the last militant stronghold before the Taliban was driven from power by U.S.-led coalition forces in 2001, borders Tajikistan and Badakhshan borders China.
On Sunday, Afghanistan’s provincial governor said the militants killed in the clean-up operation involved several foreigners, including Tajiks and Chechens.