Kunduz offensive: Afghan residents 'hide in basements'

Milita fighters sit with their guns in the back of a truck passing an armed vehicle in Kunduz Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Taliban launched their new offensive on Kunduz on Monday, at the same time as a series of attacks in southern Afghanistan

The streets of Kunduz have been transformed into battle grounds as Afghan government forces clash with Taliban fighters trying to seize control of the northern city.

But the unexpected speed with which fighting broke out on Monday means there are still hundreds of families trapped inside their homes, unable to do anything but listen to the sound of gunfire and falling bombs.

The BBC spoke to two people trapped just hundreds of metres from the frontline.

'The Taliban are 300 metres away'

Student Milad, 19, had only come to visit family but is now unable to escape because of the intense fighting just a few hundred metres from his home.

"The situation here's really bad - we wanted to get out and go to Kabul but there are Taliban checkpoints on the way so we decided to stay in.

"The Taliban are only a couple of roads away from us - they're 300 metres away to be precise.

"We have been stuck in the basement of our house for the past three days. We hardly go up to the house because there is firing and bullets and we don't want to risk getting shot at. It's very difficult. When we need food we run to the house to get the cooking equipment and bring it to the basement and cook here.

"There's no power so we occasionally turn on the generator to charge our phones. I pass my time by reading books…

"I'm with my mother, uncle, sister, little brother and other relatives - there are about seven of us in one room.

"I can hear firing, aircrafts and bombardments even in the basement."

'We are helpless'

Yalda, 21, hid in her basement with her family when the fighting broke out. They have escaped the city since speaking to the BBC, and are heading for the capital Kabul.

"We are in the centre of Kunduz, I can hear firing and helicopter bombardments right now. There is fighting and the Taliban are one kilometre away - they have hidden inside people's home and are firing from there.

"We are in danger, we can't do anything, we've locked ourselves in the basement, we are helpless, we can't flee because all the routes out are blocked. People are afraid and everyone at the moment is staying inside but if the fighting continues they will flee too.

"There is not much on TV about Kunduz at the moment but there is a radio programme where people share their problems. They are calling in saying there is fighting in Kunduz but the government is not taking any action.

"I want the fighting to stop and the government forces to defeat the Taliban. I want peace to return."

Interviews by Sodaba Haidare of the BBC World Service Outside Source programme

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