Tuesday's victory came despite signs that the Islamist militant movement was stepping up its offensive in the broader war, six months after most foreign troops left the country.

A day earlier, a Taliban car bomber and six gunmen launched a deadly attack on the Afghan Parliament in Kabul. All of the assailants were killed. One civilian also died and at least 30 people were wounded.

The violence in Kabul, Kunduz province to the north and elsewhere has put Afghanistan's security forces under more pressure than at any time since most NATO combat troops withdrew, and there appears to be no easy way out of the crisis.

"The war continues to gain intensity. Even more concerning, the nature of the attacks is becoming more serious rather than pot-shots at convoys, we are now talking about battles that last for days," said Graeme Smith, a veteran Afghan analyst at International Crisis Group.

On the front lines just outside Kunduz city in the north, Afghan Army and police drove the Taliban back from Chardara district, which the insurgents had captured two days before, provincial police chief Abdul Saboor Nasrati said.

"New reinforcements arrived in Kunduz from northern provinces. They have inflicted heavy casualties on the insurgents and pushed them back from Chardara district," Nasrati added.

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