At least 15 Afghan soldiers killed in Taliban attack in Herat

An Afghan soldier stands guard as security was intensified ahead of Ashura, in Herat, Afghanistan, Sep. 19, 2018. EPA-EFE/FILE/JALIL REZAYEE

Kabul, Dec 7 (efe-epa).- At least 15 Afghan soldiers were killed and 20 were taken captive in an overnight Taliban attack on military outposts in western Herat province of the war-torn country, officials said on Friday.

The officials said tens of Taliban fighters stormed at least two Afghan army outposts on Thursday night in Shindand district.

The final toll wasn’t confirmed as the officials were still collecting details from the remote area where mopping operation was underway.

«The attack happened last night in Shindand’s Chashme area. Both sides suffered casualties,» Jailani Farhad, a spokesperson for the western province, told EFE.

Farhad said according to «initial information 15 security forces were martyred and an equal number were either injured or captured by the Taliban.»

Sayed Azim Kebrzani, a member of the Herat provincial council, told EFE, that «14 soldiers (were) martyred and another 22 captured alive by the enemy.»

Najibullah Mohibi, another provincial council member, said he had spoken to several people in the area where the attack took place.

«The number of the martyred soldiers is 20 (and) over 20 soldiers were taken hostage by the Taliban,» he said.

He said the attackers captured two outposts and decamped with nearly all the weapons and ammunition stored there.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi tweeted responsibility of the attack on the Chashme security base in Shindad.

«(Some) 14 soldiers were killed and 23 others were captured alive, among them are injured who are under treatment. Forty weapons and a large amount of ammunition were also seized by mujahidin,» Ahmadi said.

Shindand, one of the largest districts in south of Herat, has seen deadly Taliban assaults in the past as well.

Violence in many parts of Afghanistan has surged in recent months even as the United States has had a series of talks with the Taliban.

The rebel group confirmed last month that a Taliban delegation participated in a three-day meeting on Nov. 14, 15 and 16 in Qatar with US representatives to discuss a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani also formed a 12-member panel for peace talks with the Taliban as the government struggles to bring peace ahead of presidential elections in 2019.