At least 14 security force members have been killed and six others wounded in an attack in Afghanistan’s northwestern province of Takhar, local officials said.
The casualties came as a result of overnight clashes that lasted for two hours in Khwaja Bahauddin district, a police official said on Thursday.
“At least 13 public uprising forces were killed and four others were wounded,” an unnamed security source was quoted as saying by local media TOLOnews, adding that “a border policeman was also killed and two others were wounded in a clash with the Taliban after they came to support the public uprising forces.”
The Taliban have not yet commented on the attack.
The Afghan spy agency supports pro-government local militia forces known as “Public Uprising Forces” in remote areas throughout the country to fight against the Taliban, which has waged an armed rebellion since 2001 when it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion.
Takhar is among the volatile provinces in Afghanistan where the majority of the districts are contested between armed fighters and government forces.
On Wednesday, bomb attacks in the capital Kabul and in northern Afghanistan, as well as an ambush in the country’s south, killed at least five people and wounded 15, officials said. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The violence comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are to start peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha in the near future.
In a televised address on Thursday, President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to accept a permanent ceasefire.
The United States signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in February that paves the way for the withdrawal of all international troops from the country in return for security guarantees by the Taliban.
It also paves the way for an exchange of prisoners and direct peace talks between the armed group and the government in Kabul.
The planned Doha talks between the Western-backed government and the Taliban have been delayed as Kabul has halted the release of 320 Taliban inmates, the final batch of a total 5,000 prisoners whose release was stipulated in the US-Taliban agreement as a condition for peace talks, TOLOnews reported.