Afghan government forces pushed overnight into the strategic northern city of Kunduz that was captured by the Taliban earlier this week, forcing the insurgents to retreat in heavy street fighting that was still underway Thursday. A government spokesman says the operation was launched late Wednesday, with ground forces moving from the Kunduz airport—where they had massed since the city fell to the Taliban—over roads that had been mined by the insurgents. The spokesman claimed that control of the "city was taken by 3:30am" on Thursday but conceded that an operation "to clear the city is ongoing" and could take some days. Around 200 Taliban fighters have been killed in the fighting so far, according to the spokesman, who didn't provide a figure for government casualties.
A resident living close to the main city square says "intense fighting is continuing" on city streets. "The situation is really critical and getting worse, and I've just heard a huge explosion from a bomb near my house," he tells the AP. If the victory over the Taliban is confirmed, it will be a "dramatic turn-around" in a crucial test for the Afghan army, which appeared on Wednesday to be digging in for a long fight, a BBC analyst says. After the Taliban seized the city in a surprise attack Monday, the US military carried out airstrikes and US special forces reportedly battled militants they encountered near the city's airport. (Read more Kunduz, Afghanistan stories.)