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Taliban Assault on Army Base Kills 7 Afghan Soldiers

Afghan security forces' vehicles are seen at the site of a shootout in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019.

Officials in Afghanistan say Taliban insurgents have attacked an army base in the northern Balkh province, killing at least seven Afghan soldiers and wounding six others.

The Ministry of Defense in Kabul said Tuesday the overnight "enemy" assault targeted a base in the Dawlat Abad district that was being jointly manned by the Afghan army and personnel of the national intelligence agency.

The district chief, Mohammad Yousaf, is reported to confirm, however, the Taliban attack killed at least 15 Afghan forces.

In a written statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed its fighters killed 20 Afghan security forces and captured three others before overrunning the base and seizing military equipment there. Such insurgent claims are often inflated.

Separately, Taliban insurgents ambushed a policy convoy early Tuesday in the northeastern Kapisa province, killing a district police commander and his security guard, local officials said.

On Monday, the Taliban detonated a roadside bomb near a joint U.S. and Afghan military convoy in the volatile northern Kunduz province. The blast killed an American soldier and his Afghan partner. The latest U.S fatality brought the number of American service members killed in Afghanistan this year to at least 19.

The Taliban controls or contests about half of Afghanistan and continues to plot attacks on local and U.S.-led foreign troops in the country. Insurgent attacks have killed some 50,000 Afghan security forces since late 2014, according to Afghan officials.

The United States has engaged the Taliban in peace talks and has pressed the insurgents to reduce violence to find a negotiated settlement to the 18-year-old Afghan war, the longest conflict involving the United States.

But the insurgents want the U.S. to sign an agreement on the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan before they commit themselves to a nationwide cease-fire and participate in intra-Afghan peace negotiations to help end decades of hostilities in the country.

The yearlong U.S.-Taliban dialogue, however, has suffered repeated setbacks in recent weeks due to the Taliban's refusal to cease attacks.

The negotiation process had resumed earlier this month after a suspension of three months before Washington paused it again citing a major Taliban attack on the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

The suicide car bomb-and-gun raid on the Bagram airfield, north of the Afghan capital, did not harm American service members but killed two Afghan civilians and injured scores of others in nearby civilian population.

The Afghan war has killed more than 150,000 people, including local security forces, civilians, insurgents and foreign troops. Some 2,300 U.S. soldiers also among those killed.