Afghan troops recaptured the centre of the strategic northern city of Kunduz on Thursday after fierce clashes with Taliban militants, three days after losing the provincial capital in a humbling defeat for Kabul and its US allies.
Residents said soldiers were conducting house-to-house searches and had removed the Taliban flag from the central square, replacing it with government colors.
But fighting continued on the outskirts of the city, whose capture represented a major victory for the insurgents and raised questions over whether NATO-trained Afghan forces were ready to go it alone now that most foreign combat troops have left.
“There are military helicopters in the sky and government forces everywhere,” said Abdul Ahad, a doctor in the city. “Dead Taliban are on the streets, but there are still [militants] in some government buildings fighting Afghan forces.”