KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Afghan forces in the northern city of Kunduz on Tuesday recaptured from Taliban fighters the Baghlan-Kunduz road, which leads south toward the capital of Afghanistan, a local official says.
Taliban militants seized Kunduz last week in their most significant urban victory since falling from power in 2001, and Afghan military forces, backed by U.S. air support, have been locked in an offensive to regain the city.
Shortly after storming in, the militants blockaded the road linking Kunduz to the city of Baghlan, to the south, thus depriving Afghan forces of its use for reinforcement convoys.
The road merges with other routes farther south that eventually lead into Kabul, Afghanistan's capital.
"At last the security forces were able to evict Taliban militants from Jar-e-Khushk area and reopened the road linking Baghlan to Kunduz city," Xinhua news agency quoted Baghlan provincial police chief Abdul Jabbar Purduli as saying Tuesday, adding the route was now open for "both military convoys and civilian vehicles."
Afghan forces killed at least seven Taliban fighters during efforts to recapture the position, and several others were injured, Purduli said.
Kunduz, a Taliban stronghold before the U.S. invasion in 2001, is the capital of the wider Kunduz province, which supplies half of the country's rice and holds major roads connecting central and northern Afghanistan.
Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior Affairs on Tuesday said 78 armed insurgents had been killed over the past 24 hours during military and police operations across the country, including in Kunduz province.
The reopening of the Baghlan-Kunduz road comes the same day Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding a U.S. airstrike that killed 22 civilians in a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz early Saturday.
Campbell said the airstrike, which was requested by Afghan forces, was a mistake. On Tuesday he said coalition personnel in the country would undergo in-depth training to review rules of engagement procedures.