Insurgents have taken several patients hostage at a local hospital during a massive attack on the 6th largest city. The hard-line Islamist group is close to finalizing a deal with the US that could lead to peace.

Afghanistan’s security forces are repelling a Taliban attack on Kunduz, the country’s 6th largest city, presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said on Saturday.

The large-scale assault began at 1 a.m. (0830 UTC), just as the Islamist group was continuing peace talks with US officials in Qatar.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a Twitter post called the attack “large-scale.”

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