KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban launched a new assault early Saturday on the northern city of Kunduz, which briefly fell to the insurgents in 2015 and has come under attack several times since then.
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 northern city lies at a strategic crossroads in the heart of a major agricultural region, with easy access to much of northern Afghanistan as well as the capital, Kabul. The Taliban seized Kunduz for around two weeks in 2015 before withdrawing in the face of a NATO-backed Afghan offensive. The insurgents pushed into the city center a year later, briefly raising their flag before gradually being pushed out.
The insurgents effectively control nearly half of Afghanistan and have continued to launch daily attacks on security forces despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months.
The Taliban declared the start of their annual spring offensive on Friday, but the announcement has little meaning as the insurgents have managed to keep up a steady tempo of attacks even during the harsh winter months in recent years.
In the western Ghor province, the Taliban ambushed a police convoy on Friday afternoon, killing seven security forces and igniting a battle that raged for several hours, said Abdul Hai Khateby, the governor's spokesman. Among those killed was Faqir Ahmad Noori, the head of operations for the provincial police. Another two police and a civilian were wounded, Khateby said.
In the northern Baghlan province, the Taliban killed seven police and wounded eight in an attack on checkpoints late Friday, said Safder Mohsini, head of the provincial council. The insurgents also attacked a district headquarters in the eastern Nangarhar province late Friday, killing two police, said Attahullah Khogyani, the governor's spokesman.
Nangarhar Gov. Shahmahmood Miakhel said Afghan forces repelled the attack after reinforcements arrived.