KABUL, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 200 Taliban fighters have been killed in Afghanistan's northern provinces since the so-called annual offensive was launched by the outfit on Friday, an army spokesman in the northern region, Mohammad Hanif Rezai, said Tuesday.
According to the official, the armed outfit has spared no efforts to overrun at least some districts or a city but so far failed to achieve the goal. Over a dozen foreign fighters are also among those killed in the counter-insurgency operations, the official added, but he didn't identify their nationalities.
Taliban militants fighting the government to regain power announced the group's annual spring offensive codenamed "al-Fath" which means victory in Arabic on April 12, and since then have launched major offensives against government interests elsewhere including northern, eastern, western and southern provinces in the conflict-battered country.
The militants were close to overrun Kunduz city, the capital of northern Kunduz province on Friday and Saturday, but their attempts have been beaten back and the militants retreated by leaving dozens of bodies behind, local officials said.
Rezai also said that 15 key commanders of the Taliban were also among those killed in counter-offensives in the northern provinces.
About 80 more militants have been injured in the ongoing fighting, Rezai said.
However, Rezai admitted that seven security personnel had been killed and 15 others sustained injuries in the ongoing operations against Taliban outfit in the northern provinces.
Meanwhile, Zabihullah Majahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit, in contact with media has claimed that the militants had gained grounds in the northern Kunduz, Takhar, Badakhshan, Baghlan and Faryab provinces, a claim rebuffed by security officials as groundless.