NEW DELHI – At least 25 members of a militia aligned with the government died in a Taliban ambush in northern Afghanistan amid ongoing negotiations between the insurgents and US officials, the defense ministry said on Saturday.
“A group of pro-government militiamen faced a Taliban ambush in Nahreen district, Baghlan province, around 1.30 am,” ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said.
“Twenty-five members of the pro-government militia died as a result of the attack,” he said.
The militiamen came under attack while on their way to collect captured government soldiers who the Taliban were ostensibly going to release, according to the spokesman.
Security forces rushed to the aid of the militia and more than a dozen Taliban fighters were killed in the ensuing battle, Aman said.
The Taliban claimed that they killed 28 members of the security forces, including three senior officers, and wounded 12 others.
Insurgents also seized a “great quantity of arms and ammunition,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.
The ambush coincided with the seventh round of US-Taliban talks in Qatar aimed at ending nearly two decades of conflict in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s chief demand is the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the South Asian nation.
Washington is hopeful of reaching an agreement with the Taliban by Sept. 1, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this week during a surprise visit to Afghanistan.