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Afghan Government Says Army Has Retaken Kunduz From The Taliban

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're also tracking the war in Afghanistan, where the government says it's striking back. Afghan authorities say their forces have fought their way back into Kunduz. That's the city the Taliban captured early this week. The Afghan forces had been trying to regroup with the help of U.S. advisers. NPR's Philip Reeves has more.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Exactly how much of Kunduz has been taken back by Afghanistan's security forces isn't clear. Government officials and senior army officers say their troops are now in control of the city. Afghan troops and special forces reportedly fought their way back in overnight. Setting out from the outlying airport, their main base since the Taliban takeover, along roads that the militants had mined. They were supported by U.S. airstrikes and NATO special forces advisers. Before dawn, the city was retaken, Afghan officials say. Photographs are popping up on social media purporting to show a government soldier removing the Taliban's white flag from the city's central square and replacing it with the Afghan national flag. The Taliban is denying they've lost Kunduz. They're saying their fighters are still in the city, engaging with government forces. Eyewitnesses say bodies of dead militants litter the streets and describe a nerve-racking night of fierce fighting. It isn't known how many Taliban have died. One senior official reportedly says the militants escaped. Few observers expected the Taliban to hold on for long. The capture of Kunduz was an embarrassment to the Afghan government and to its U.S. -trained security forces. The government was under intense pressure at home and abroad to redress this. The invasion of the city showed that the Taliban is capable of a big, coordinated attack on a major urban center. And the militants will likely consider that a victory, even if it's ended in their defeat. Philip Reeves, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
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