Taliban militants killed at least 18 soldiers in clashes that broke out overnight in Ab Kamari when troops tried to arrest a senior leader of the movement, Afghan government officials said on Wednesday.
The clashes began after several soldiers were flown to the Ab Kamari district of Badges province to conduct a night raid on Taliban hideouts and arrest a person appointed by the Taliban as governor of the region.
A member of the provincial council in Badghis said the Taliban cordoned off the soldiers, killing 18 of them and capturing 11 others. He added that another 10 soldiers were missing.
The governor of Ab Kamari said that the reason for the absence was coordination. “The operation was carried out to raid a hideout used by many Taliban leaders, but the militants had evacuated the area two days ago,” he said.
The Taliban confirmed in a statement that they had received information about the raid. It said its fighters killed 39 Afghan soldiers and captured 16 others.
The Taliban continue to launch major attacks on Afghan forces while participating in talks with the United States to negotiate an end to the 18-year-old war.
President Ashraf Ghani said in January that more than 45,000 security forces had been killed by militants since taking office in September 2014.