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Afghan Troops Claim Control of Kunduz Main Square

Afghan protesters sit on the ground to block one of the main Kabul streets during a demonstration against the government, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 7, 2015.

Afghan troops have regained control of the main square in Kunduz, a strategic northern city briefly seized by Taliban insurgents last week that has been the scene of intense fighting, officials said Wednesday.

Kunduz police chief Mohammad Qaseem Jangalbagh told VOA that life is getting back to normal in the city.

“We have cleaned up the city and don’t have any concerns now. Residents can come back and begin their normal daily life,” Jangalbagh said.

A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani said some "scattered elements of the enemy'' remain in residential areas of Kunduz as operations continue to clear the Taliban from the city.

"This could at times slow down the speed of our military operations as we put the utmost effort into not harming civilians,'' deputy spokesman Zafar Hashemi said.

Clean province, territory

Hashemi added that Ghani has ordered the continuation of operations to "fully clean the city, province and the entire northeastern region of terrorist groups.''

Taliban fighters seized control of Kunduz city, capital of the province of the same name, for three days last week.

After sealing the city and mining roads, they allegedly looted and burned government buildings and businesses, and harassed journalists and human rights workers.

The government launched its counteroffensive Thursday, and troops have since fought intermittent running battles with insurgents, who have launched attacks on security forces from the rural outskirts of the city, officials and residents have said.