General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the first vice president, announced on Sunday night that he will lead a large-scale military operation in Kunduz to clear the province of insurgents.
According to him, he will visit the province in the next few days, along with the interior minister, Taj Mohammad Jahid, and one of the deputy National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief’s.
Dostum meanwhile acknowledged that “there are issues in the leadership of the security forces in Kunduz fighting against the Taliban.”
However, local security officials said that the troops have cleared most areas around traffic circles in Kunduz including the one in the first and third districts, in Chahara-e-Cinema and in Bandar-e-Kabul.
The security forces have also started house-to-house searches for insurgents who have been hiding out in civilian homes for the past week.
Officials said that a military operation was launched early Monday along the Kunduz-Takhar highway and in Bandar-e-Khan Abad area to clear the insurgents.
In the meantime, Afghan and foreign air forces have also carried out air operations in different parts of Kunduz.
“The U.S apache choppers are also involved in the operation and are targeting the Taliban in different parts of Kunduz,” a source told TOLOnews.
The situation has however slowly improved, especially near the main circle of Kunduz city and the Zer-e-Dawra market has reopened.
Provincial Police Chief, Gen. Mohammad Qasim Jangal Bagh told TOLOnews that more than 200 Taliban insurgents were killed or injured in the past week.
But at least 20 security force members were also killed or injured in the ongoing clashes, he added.
However, there are unconfirmed reports that dozens of security force members have been killed or injured in the past week.
Government hospitals meanwhile confirmed that they have admitted almost 200 civilian casualties in this time.
This comes after Assadullah Omarkhil, the governor of Kunduz, said in an interview with TOLOnews on Sunday that General Murad Ali Murad, deputy army chief of staff, was to blame for the current Kunduz crisis.
Omarkhil says that pulling the forces out of the city and conducting operations in the districts late last year, before removing insurgents completely from the city, was a big mistake.
“I asked that first we should clear the entire city. But General Murad (who is also the Kunduz war commander) did not accept my suggestion and moved according to his own plan. I was worried about this (crisis) and then it happened,” Omarkhil said.
Omarkhil said Murad, with his advisors, only cleared a few roads, and should respond to the people of Kunduz.
TOLOnews made many calls to Murad for comment but failed to reach him.
However, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) rejected this claim.
“Everywhere that General Murad has conducted operations, he has achieved good results. I don’t know why Omarkhil has said such things and I don’t want to analyse it,” said Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the MoD.
Last Monday, the Taliban launched coordinated attacks against Kunduz, capturing a number of areas in the city. Since then, security forces have battled to push back the insurgents.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have fled the city and those still there are faced with serious food and water shortages.