Tue May 16, 2017 10:15AM
Afghan security personnel keep watch during fighting between Taliban militants and Afghan forces in Kunduz on May 10, 2017.  (Photo by AFP)
Afghan security personnel keep watch during fighting between Taliban militants and Afghan forces in Kunduz on May 10, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Afghan forces have recaptured a key district in the northern province of Kunduz from the Taliban militant group, which has stepped up its deadly attacks against government and civilian targets in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, the National Security Forces (ANSF) regained control of the Qala-e-Zal district, which had fallen to Taliban militants 10 days ago, Army Special Forces Battalion commander, Satar Andarabi was cited as saying in local media.

The recapture came after Afghan forces launched a major operation against Taliban positions early in the morning and engaged the militants in fierce battles.

Andarabi added that Afghan troops are currently clearing the area of mines and leftover Taliban militants, who announced the start of it so-called spring offensive in late April.

There are no reports of casualty figures so far. The Taliban have not commented on the report yet.

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry also confirmed the recapture of Qala-e-Zal in an offensive that began at 6:00 a.m. local time from the nearby Aqtapa village.

“Around 2,000 families have been displaced, with most relocating in Kunduz city. Some have also fled to other nearby districts,” Assadullah Sadat, a member of the Kunduz provincial council, told AFP.

Members of an Afghan militia look on during fighting between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces near the Qala-e-Zal district in Kunduz province  on May 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Taliban briefly seized Kunduz City in September 2015, in their biggest victory since they were toppled from national power by a US-led invasion in 2001. They were able briefly to re-enter the city center in October 2016 before once again being pushed back.

Elsewhere in the eastern province of Kunar, Taliban militants launched a rocket attack that hit a market in the provincial capital, Asad Abad, killing two employees of the department of communications.

Intense skirmishes have erupted between Taliban mil and government forces in different areas from the northern province of Badakhshan to Helmand and Kandahar in the south since the militant group announced the start of its annual offensive.

Over 1,000 members of Afghan security forces as well as over 700 civilians have so far been killed during the violence this year, according to Afghan authorities and figures cited by the US-based Congressional watchdog Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

UN figures also indicate that nearly 75,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes in the first four months of the year.

The high casualty figures come nearly 16 years after the US-led and its allies invaded Afghanistan in an announced bid to topple the Taliban regime that was ruling the country back then.

The invasion did remove Taliban from power, but has failed to stop its terror campaign to this day.