Taliban take another area in Afghanistan, parliament member says

Updated 2:39 PM EDT, Thu October 1, 2015
afghan forces struggle kunduz pkg watson wrn_00001226.jpg
afghan forces struggle kunduz pkg watson wrn_00001226.jpg
Now playing
01:44
Afghan forces struggle to retake Kunduz from the Taliban
Alleged Taliban fighters and other militants stand handcuffed while being presented to the media at a police headquarters in Jalalabad on March 6, 2018. 
Afghan police said over 17 alleged Taliban militants including two Pakistani nationals were arrested during a five-week operation in Nangarhar province. / AFP PHOTO / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA        (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)
NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Alleged Taliban fighters and other militants stand handcuffed while being presented to the media at a police headquarters in Jalalabad on March 6, 2018. Afghan police said over 17 alleged Taliban militants including two Pakistani nationals were arrested during a five-week operation in Nangarhar province. / AFP PHOTO / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:21
The Taliban: How it began, and what it wants
CNN
Now playing
00:50
Pence: Proud of US troops in Afghanistan
Now playing
00:50
Trump on Afghanistan plan: 'Attack we will'
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017.
Trump said a rapid Afghan exit would leave 'vacuum' for terrorists. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017. Trump said a rapid Afghan exit would leave 'vacuum' for terrorists. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:08
The pillars of Trump's Afghanistan strategy
CAMP BLESSING, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 22:  Artilerymen await coordinates before firing a 155mm Howlitzer on a Taliban position October 22, 2008 from Camp Blessing in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan. Their unit, Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion of the 321 Field Artilery, has fired more than 5,900 shells since it deployed to Afghanistan less than a year ago, making it the busiest artilery unit in the U.S. Army, according to to military officers. They most often fire in support of Army infantry units battling Taliban insurgents in the nearby Korengal Valley, site of some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
John Moore/Getty Images
CAMP BLESSING, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 22: Artilerymen await coordinates before firing a 155mm Howlitzer on a Taliban position October 22, 2008 from Camp Blessing in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan. Their unit, Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion of the 321 Field Artilery, has fired more than 5,900 shells since it deployed to Afghanistan less than a year ago, making it the busiest artilery unit in the U.S. Army, according to to military officers. They most often fire in support of Army infantry units battling Taliban insurgents in the nearby Korengal Valley, site of some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:54
Trump: US in Afghanistan to kill terrorists
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017.
Trump warned Monday that a hasty exit from Afghanistan would create a "vacuum" that would benefit America's jihadist foes, in a major policy address on his strategy in the 16-year conflict. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump speaks during his address to the nation from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, on August 21, 2017. Trump warned Monday that a hasty exit from Afghanistan would create a "vacuum" that would benefit America's jihadist foes, in a major policy address on his strategy in the 16-year conflict. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:42
Trump calls terrorists 'losers'
President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, during a Presidential Address to the Nation about a strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, during a Presidential Address to the Nation about a strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Now playing
01:21
Trump: Our support is not a blank check
Now playing
00:45
Trump acknowledges flip-flop on Afghanistan
POOL
Now playing
01:04
Trump: Love for America requires love for all
president trump afghanistan war plan troop address_00003227.jpg
CNN
president trump afghanistan war plan troop address_00003227.jpg
Now playing
01:34
Trump: We produce a special class of heroes
US President Donald Trump walks by as reporters shout questions to him upon his arrival on the South Lawn at the White House on August 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Later today President Trump will be meeting from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray regarding this weekendÕs events in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump walks by as reporters shout questions to him upon his arrival on the South Lawn at the White House on August 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Later today President Trump will be meeting from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray regarding this weekendÕs events in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:24
Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan?
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13:  U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mattis and other Pentagon leaders testified about the proposed FY2018 National Defense Authorization Budget Request.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mattis and other Pentagon leaders testified about the proposed FY2018 National Defense Authorization Budget Request. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:25
Mattis: New Afghanistan strategy decided
Getty Images
Now playing
01:27
US troops in Afghanistan: A history (2017)
An injured man is transported after a car bomb attack in western Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, July 24.
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images
An injured man is transported after a car bomb attack in western Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, July 24.
Now playing
00:46
Dozens killed in Kabul car bombing
CNN
Now playing
02:52
Marines remaining in Afghanistan face hardship

Story highlights

NEW: The Warduj district of Badakhshan has fallen to the Taliban, an Afghan parliament member tells CNN

Taliban initially took Kunduz, an important area, on Monday; Afghan troops have been fighting them since

(CNN) —  

The Taliban have taken over the Warduj district of Badakhshan, east of Kunduz province, according to Fawzia Koofi, one of the first women to be elected to the Afghan parliament after the U.S. invasion of the country.

The Taliban takeover in Warduj province represents a new setback for the Afghan government, after the group reclaimed parts of the city of Kunduz earlier this week. That was the biggest victory the Taliban has had in 15 years. Kunduz is a strategic hub on the main highway between Kabul and Tajikistan.

Earlier Thursday, Doctors Without Borders staff working in a hospital in Kunduz were caught in the crossfire as the Taliban and Afghan security forces – with help from U.S. troops – battled for control of the provincial capital.

The medical staff bravely worked to treat the wounded as shells exploded and the ominous sound of rockets filled the air. Bullets broke windows and pierced the roof of the intensive care unit, Dr. Masood Nasim said.

“Our hospital was on the front line, with fighting outside the gate,” he said. “But despite being in the middle of the fighting, our hospital and staff have been respected and we’ve been able to carry on our work.”

Nasim, the medical team leader, said that since Monday – when the Taliban said they had seized control of Kunduz – the hospital had received at least 296 patients, including 64 children. Nearly 75 of them arrived in critical condition, and many were shot, he said.

The facility has a 92-bed capacity but the medical staff scrambled. They put patients in offices and examination rooms and stabilized many on mattresses on the ground.

“Our surgeons have been treating very severe abdominal wounds and limb and head injuries,” he said. “The hospital has been completely full of patients.”

While they fought to save lives, competing narratives circulated over who was winning Kunduz.

Early Thursday, the Afghan government said it had reclaimed most of the city in a big operation backed by U.S. airstrikes.

But hours later there were signs that the Taliban were back in Kunduz, a resident told CNN. Gunshots were heard near the airport, according to a resident who did not want to be named for security reasons.

The U.S. role

U.S. Special Forces advisers in the country said in a statement that Afghan Security Forces had Thursday “encountered an insurgent threat in Kunduz” to which U.S. Special Forces returned fire to “eliminate the threat.”

The statement stressed that Afghan Security Forces have full responsibility for their operations in Kunduz, but U.S. service members have the right to protect themselves.

At least 150 Taliban fighters were killed in Kunduz with 50 others dying in Baghlan and Takhar, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted. The Khawja Ghar district was also retaken by Afghan forces, according to Sediqqi.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid insisted the militants weren’t done fighting in the city yet and had regained ground since the government’s advance.

The Taliban remain in control of at least two districts in the rest of Kunduz province.

The Taliban’s takeover of Kunduz was the first time they had driven government forces out of a provincial capital since the Islamic extremist group was ousted from power in 2001.

The defeat intensified doubts about Afghan troops’ ability to take on the militants now that the U.S.-led coalition has stepped back from front-line combat. It also showed the Islamic extremist group’s resilience despite recent internal divisions under its new leader.

Why is the Taliban takeover of Kunduz a big deal?

The Taliban attack Monday, in which government officials say the militants cunningly “infiltrated” the city, was preceded by a monthslong buildup of insurgent forces in the surrounding region. And yet the Afghan security forces, who outnumbered their enemy, appeared unprepared or unwilling to defend it.

After losing Kunduz on Monday, Afghan troops initially struggled to retake it. Many of them remained dug in at the airport on the outskirts of the city while the Taliban prevented reinforcements from getting through from neighboring Baghlan province.

The situation on the ground in and around Kunduz has often appeared confused, with the Taliban and the government both claiming to have gained ground and inflicted heavy casualties on the other side.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said the operation to retake the city had killed 150 Taliban fighters. But it didn’t provide any information about casualties on the government side.

Hundreds of civilians wounded

Many civilians were caught up in the fighting and thousands fled Kunduz, according to the United Nations. They left by truck, rickshaw or horse – and some on foot.

Nicholas Haysom, the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, said that under Taliban control of the city there were reports of “extrajudicial executions, including of health care workers, abductions, denial of medical care and restrictions on movement.”

One male resident of Kunduz told CNN on Wednesday that shops were closed, there was a citywide power blackout and it was becoming difficult to find food.

“Kunduz has turned into a ghost city,” the man said, reporting that he had been hurt by shrapnel after getting caught in a firefight. He spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution.

Pictures and video posted to social media from Kunduz after the government said it had retaken control showed citizens out on the streets.

Opinion: How Afghanistan can succeed

CNN’s Masoud Popalzai reported from Kabul, Bex Right and Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from Hong Kong. Ashley Fantz wrote this story in Atlanta. CNN’s Greg Botelho, Ivan Watson and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.