Taliban militants captured a district just outside the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, officials said, pointing to renewed pickup in fighting after the insurgents announced their annual spring offensive last week.
Mahfouz Akbari, a police spokesman for eastern Afghanistan, said security forces had pulled out of Qala-i-Zal district, west of Kunduz city, on Saturday to avoid further civilian and military casualties after more than 24 hours of heavy fighting.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman ZabihullahMujahid said the insurgents had taken police headquarters, the governor's compound and all security checkpoints. He said several police and soldiers had been killed and wounded.
Over the past 18 months, Taliban insurgents have twice succeeded in seizing the town center of Kunduz for brief periods and the latest fighting underscores warnings that Afghan forces face another grueling year of fighting.