Fear Sets in as Taliban Seize Former Bastions of Resistance
Sayed Mohammad Alizada, 40, a Kunduz resident, spent more than a month waking up to the incessant sounds of mortars and gunfire in the distance. Then, one night early last month, as the front lines pushed deeper into his neighborhood, a mortar landed outside his house. Finally, he fled on Sunday, hours after the Taliban took over the city.
“I thought that if they continued to fire mortars, I could lose my whole family, even myself,” said Alizada, who was wounded by crossfire during the battle. “It was the most intense fight we have ever seen.”
Sitting in front of an open door in his living room, he had felt the sharp pain of a shrapnel tearing his left shoulder. Within minutes, he and his family piled into his rickshaw and rushed to the hospital as clashes between government troops and Taliban fighters erupted a few blocks away.
By the time he left Kunduz on Sunday, the town he knew was almost unrecognizable: the buildings were riddled with bullets. The roads were pockmarked with craters from the mortar fire. Outside his house, a mulberry tree had been cut in half by a mortar.
He was one of more than 6,000 families displaced from Kunduz since the Taliban seized the town, according to Mohammad Yousef Khadam, head of emergency situations for the Kunduz refugee and repatriation department.
Many have fled to Kabul, where a fenced basketball court in a downtown park has been turned into a place of refuge. The displaced people have gathered under makeshift accommodation consisting of little more than large olive-green sheets stretched over four wooden poles.
When people arrived on Sunday evening, they looked for any space they could find. Women and children slept side by side on a patchwork of red Afghan rugs. A woman cradling a baby begged a doctor to visit the camp. She had slept in the biting cold of the park the night before, she said, and her daughter had fallen ill.
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