Kabul-Afghanistan (PMG):

Reporter: Firdous Rasouli

Insurgents have taken several patients hostage at a local hospital during a massive attack on the 6th largest city. The hardline Islamist group is close to finalizing a deal with the US that could lead to peace.

Afghanistan’s security forces are repelling a Taliban attack on Kunduz, the country’s 6th largest city, presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said on Saturday.

The large-scale assault began at 1 a.m. (0830 UTC), just as the Islamist group was continuing peace talks with US officials in Qatar.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a Twitter post called the attack “large-scale.”

Afghan officials said the insurgents had captured several installations in three areas of the strategic northern city and taken several patients hostage at a local hospital.

“We could very easily attack but we don’t want civilian casualties,” Defense Ministry Spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai told reporters.

It is not the first time that the Taliban have attacked Kunduz and seized the cities of the province. Last year, the Taliban attacked thousands of families and displaced thousands of families from their homes in Kunduz.

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