Obama Golfs as World Burns
Afghan calls for help are rejected as the Taliban marches.
(AFP News) - Intense fighting flared in northern Afghanistan as security forces battled Taliban insurgents advancing Tuesday on a major provincial capital, officials said, with terrified residents fearing the fall of the besieged city.
Hundreds of militants closed in on Kunduz city (population 300,000) after attacking outlying police and army checkposts on Friday, just hours after the Taliban launched their annual spring offensive.
The battles are raging as close as six kilometres north of Kunduz city in Imam Sahib district and nearby villages in the east and south, officials said.
"The Taliban have surrounded the district and if reinforcements don't arrive... the district will fall to Taliban," Imamuddin Quraishi, the district governor of Imam Sahib, told AFP.
"They are attacking us from three directions. We don't have enough forces to contain them," he added.
The streets of Kunduz city were deserted, with shops closed and local administration officials deserting government buildings, residents said as fears of a Taliban takeover grew.
"We are really worried that the city could slip into the hands of the Taliban... and all the gains over the last 13 years will be lost," Ahmad Luqman 35, a shopkeeper in the city, told AFP.
"We don’t want to go back to the civil war."
The fall of a provincial capital would be a major setback for the Afghan government, which has been fighting a resilient Taliban insurgency since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Quraishi said the provincial government had asked NATO for air support but the appeal had been rejected on the grounds that it may cause civilian casualties.Read More . . . .