KUNDUZ, Afghanistan Oct 6 Fighting in the
northern Afghan city of Kunduz has forced many hospital staff to
leave for safety, officials said on Thursday, further
jeopardising medical care for hundreds of people.
Street-to-street gun battles have continued for four days
after Taliban militants slipped past the city's defences on
Government troops, backed by U.S. special forces and air
strikes, have repeatedly declared that they are in control of
the city, but residents report that heavy fighting has forced
many people to flee.
Among those fleeing Kunduz are about 70 percent of the staff
at the city's main public hospital, which was struck by several
rockets and small arms fire, said Marzia Yaftali Salaam, a
The 200-bed public hospital is the main provider of medical
care in Kunduz after a more advanced trauma centre run by
Medecins Sans Frontiers was destroyed by an American air strike
In the past three days, the hospital has been inundated by
at least 210 patients, many of them civilians, including women
and children, injured in the fighting, Salaam said.
"Many of the wounded had to be carried to clinics in
surrounding districts and private clinics in the city," she
said. "If the situation remains the same, we may be forced to
halt our services."
During a lull in the fighting on Wednesday, nearly 50
casualties were rushed to the hospital in the span of a few
hours, said Hameed Alam, head of the public health department in
Thousands of residents have fled the city, with those who
remain facing serious water, food and electricity shortages, as
well as threats from the fighting.
The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from
1996 to 2001, are seeking to topple the Western-backed
government in Kabul and reimpose Islamic rule.
"There is fighting in every street and the situation is
critical," said Ismail Kawasi, a spokesman for the Public Health
Ministry in Kabul.
Additional medical supplies and personnel were positioned in
neighbouring provinces, but they must wait for the fighting to
subside before they can be flown to Kunduz, he said.
(Reporting by Sardar Razmal; Additional reporting by Mirwais
Harooni in Kabul; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Nick Macfie)