Taliban threaten northern Afghan city of Kunduz once again

Posted Apr 15, 2019 by Ken Hanly
Everyone was shocked when the city of Kunduz in the far north of Afghanistan fell to the Taliban back in 2015. Since then the city has been contested repeatedly.
Afghan security forces guard a checkpoint during clashes with Taliban militants in Kunduz  capital o...
Afghan security forces guard a checkpoint during clashes with Taliban militants in Kunduz, capital of northeastern Kunduz province, on September 28, 2015
Najim Rahim, AFP
Kunduz is a key city
The Afghan government has been desperately trying to maintain control of this strategic city. For much of the war Kunduz was considered to be safely out of the Taliban sphere of influence. However, all that changed after the 2015 attack took the city temporarily. The Taliban have made major gains in the area and continually threaten to retake the city. If they retake it now this will indicate how badly the long lasting war is going. Few places now in the country are free of Taliban influence.
Kunduz being attacked on several fronts
Yesterday, the Taliban launched attacks from different fronts attempting to seize Kunduz once more. A recent article notes: "Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, head of the provincial council in Kunduz, said at least six people were killed and more than 50 were wounded as the insurgents attacked from multiple directions just after midnight. He said hundreds of people fled their homes as the sound of gunfire and explosions echoed from the city's outskirts."
The Taliban claimed a higher number of casualties than officials admit to claiming 8 had been killed and 62 wounded. Many citizens are said to be fleeing from the outskirts of the city where the battle is taking place. The Afghan government is going to need to scramble and get reinforcements to the city quickly or it could fall once again. However, peace talks are being held later this month between US officials along with Taliban representatives.
Peace talks in Qatar to include women
Peace talks will be held with Taliban and US officials on 19-21 of April in Doha. Also, a delegation of about 150 Afghan and civil society figures will attend. The Taliban refuse to negotiate with the Afghan government which it considers a puppet of the United States. The Taliban regime was infamous for its restrictions on women.
The US has been putting pressure to include women in the talks and it seems to have worked. Zabihullah Mujahid, chief spokesperson for the Taliban said: “There will be women among Taliban delegation members in the Doha, Qatar meeting. These women have no family relationship with the senior members of the Taliban, they are normal Afghans, from inside and outside the country, who have been supporters and part of the struggle of the Islamic emirate.” He did not give their names.
Fawzia Koofi, a former Afghan parliament member said the presence of women in the Taliban was a good step and noted: “Only women can feel the pain and miseries that Afghan women have suffered. The presence of women among the Taliban negotiators shows that the Taliban’s ideology has changed."