Afghan government forces regained control of a key district near the northern city of Kunduz on Tuesday, after Taliban fighters had threatened to capture a provincial capital for the first time since being driven from power in 2001.
Tuesday’s victory came despite signs that the Islamist militant movement was stepping up its offensive in the broader war, six months after most foreign troops left the country.
A day earlier, a Taliban car bomber and six gunmen launched a spectacular attack on the Afghan parliament in Kabul. All of the assailants were killed. One civilian also died and at least 30 people were wounded.
On the front lines just outside Kunduz city in the north, Afghan army and police drove the Taliban back from Chardara district, which the insurgents had captured two days before, provincial police chief Abdul Saboor Nasrati said.
“New reinforcements arrived in Kunduz from northern provinces. They have inflicted heavy casualties on the insurgents and pushed them back from Chardara district,” Nasrati said.
“We are pursuing them and the gun battle is still ongoing.”
Pentagon officials in Washington said the attacks on Parliament and Kunduz both illustrated the Taliban’s inability to win and hold terrain against Afghan security forces.