Kabul, Apr 5 (efe-epa).- At least 15 soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan’s southwestern Helmand province of the country, officials said Monday, as a spike in violence continues in the war-ravaged nation.
The attack took place Sunday night when Taliban fighters overran an army check post on a highway in the Wazir-Manda area of Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand.
The province is one of the main strongholds of the insurgents.
“The Taliban attacked an army base last night in the Wazir-Manda area. We have over 15 persons martyred in the attack,” Abdul Majid Akhundzada, a provincial council member, told EFE.
During the hours-long gun battle, the attackers took “a number of injured members of the army with them to an unknown location,” the official said.
He said the outpost on the highway was at some distance from other security check posts in the restive province.
Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusuf Ahmadi owned the responsibility for the attack.
Ahmadi claimed that 13 soldiers were dead while the fighters captured 11.
Another Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed the insurgents overran the check post because forces in this base were firing mortars into surrounding areas.
He said Taliban fighters also took away the weapons of the security forces with them.
The attack came a day after the Taliban warned of targeting Afghan forces if the government did not stop operations in various parts of the country, particularly in southern Kandahar and northeastern Badakhshan provinces.
Taliban called these operations clear “violations” of a peace agreement it signed with the United States in February last year.
In a statement, the Afghan defense ministry said at least 110 Taliban fighters were killed and 81 injured in the past 24 hours across the country.
On Sunday, a Taliban attack killed three security personnel and injured 12 in Kabul province.
The attack, the first of its kind in around five months, occurred around noon local time in Paghman district west of the capital city.
Violence has escalated sharply in recent days across the country.
The Afghan government and the Taliban had last year committed to slow down their combat activities as part of the efforts to help the intra-Afghan talks progress.
Peace negotiations between the warring sides started almost seven months ago in Doha without any significant progress so far. EFE-EPA