US warplanes hit Taliban positions near the city of Kunduz, captured the day before by Taliban forces. Afghan government troops have launched a counterattack to retake the city.
The takeover of Kunduz in Afghanistan's north was a major success for Taliban forces. They launched an attack from three directions on Monday morning and seized control of the city from government forces hours later.
General Murad Ali Murad, commander of the Afghan ground forces said that sufficient reinforcement troops have been deployed to Kunduz to make an attempt to retake the lost territories as early as Tuesday morning.
The Afghan military took over responsibility for security after the withdrawal of the majority of NATO troops last year. The alliance keeps a scaled-down contingent of military advisers. The US also continues drone attacks targeting militant leaders. Afghan troops and officials previously retreated to the city airport. They have regrouped and began a counterattack on Tuesday to recapture the city.
Meanwhile, the United Nations condemned the attack on Kunduz calling it a violation of international law.
The Taliban reported taking several key buildings in a siege of Kunduz, a provincial center in northern Afghanistan, after launching a major offensive operation Monday, Reuters said.
The Islamist fighters have captured a 200-bed hospital and several government buildings, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a post on Twitter. Earlier, Afghan police said the Taliban attacked Kunduz from three directions.
A police official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity confirmed that Taliban fighters had entered the government-run hospital, but said it was unclear whether they were still there. An eyewitness said he saw buildings on fire in the south of the city.
A hospital official said Taliban fighters were apparently looking for wounded government fighters.
Another eyewitness told the agency that the Taliban had managed to hoist their flag over Kunduz's main square.
The Taliban advised Kunduz residents to stay indoors during the hostilities, saying its fighters would do their best not to harm civilians.
Nevertheless, the Pajhwok news agency says at least four residents of the city were killed during the siege and 47 others were injured. Government forces reported four fatalities on their side and said at least 20 Taliban fighters were killed.
Some unconfirmed reports in the Afghan media said the UN ordered evacuation of its employees in Kunduz over the attack and so did several other international organizations.
US-trained Afghan police and army used helicopters to fire rockets at the advancing Taliban forces. Artillery and gunfire could be heard in the city center after dawn.
Kunduz was at the center of fierce fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces in April. Taking over the city would be a major victory for the militants, who are seeking to capitalize on the withdrawal of most foreign troops, who handed over most security functions to national forces.
Earlier, Afghan troops drove off the Taliban from most of the ground they took over during the warm weather fighting season.