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Taliban Attack Kills 26 Afghan Soldiers in South

Afghan officials confirmed Wednesday a Taliban attack has left at least 26 soldiers dead and 13 others wounded in the southern province of Kandahar.

The overnight assault in the Khakrez district targeted an Afghan National Army, or ANA, base, an official statement quoted Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri as saying.

He said the ensuing fighting also “killed and wounded” 80 Taliban assailants but gave no other details.

Local air force commanders told reporters airstrikes in support of ground troops forced insurgents to retreat and military helicopters then transported wounded soldiers to nearby hospitals.

The Taliban reportedly took away weapons and other military equipment with them.

A Taliban spokesman claimed it captured the army base after killing 74 Afghan soldiers and capturing six others.

It was not possible to independently verify claims made by either side.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Taliban insurgents staged an early morning attack against a key district center in the eastern Noortistan province.

Chief of the Wantwigel district, Rehmatullah Rehmat told VOA fierce fighting is raging in the area and all government security outposts were under attack.

A Taliban statement claimed its fighters have overrun major security outposts around the district, inflicting heavy casualties on Afghan security forces.

The fighting is currently taking place 200 meters from the district center, it said.

The insurgent group has overrun the eastern district three times in the past 15 years but it could not hold the territory for long in the face of retaliatory attacks by Afghan forces.