Map of Sangin district, in Helmand province,  Afghanistan
Sangin Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD - The Taliban has assaulted an army base in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 soldiers and injuring four others.

An Afghan military statement said Saturday the predawn insurgent bomb-and-gun raid took place in Helmand province, where most of the districts are controlled by the Taliban.

Provincial government spokesman Omar Zwak told VOA the assailants detonated a bomb before storming the installation in Sangin district. The ensuing clashes, he said, continued for several hours and both sides suffered casualties. Zwak did not give further details.

However, a local Afghan official told VOA on condition of anonymity the Taliban attack killed 17 soldiers and wounded six others. Local media reported the Taliban dug a tunnel to reach the army base.

A Taliban spokesman claimed in a statement its fighters overran the army post and killed 26 Afghan forces, though insurgent claims are often exaggerated. Sangin district is mostly controlled by the insurgents.

Taliban attacks

The Taliban this week have carried out repeated attacks against Afghan forces in different provinces, inflicting dozens of casualties and overrunning territory. One of the attacks in the northern Kunduz province Monday also killed an American soldier.

The intensified insurgent attacks come despite calls by the United States for the Taliban to reduce violence to help further a troubled peace process aimed at starting intra-Afghan negotiations to end the 18-year-old war.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Taliban leadership council had agreed Wednesday to a weeklong cease-fire, citing a person briefed by a senior Taliban official present at the meeting in Quetta, sit of the group's headquarters. 

The newspaper said it was not immediately clear if the move would allow for an agreement with the U.S. that would include a drawdown of the approximately 13,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the development, according to the Journal

The United Nations said Thursday that 18 years of continued hostilities were also taking an appalling toll on Afghan civilians.

The world body noted in a statement the war has killed or injured more than 100,000 civilians since 2009, when the U.N. mission in Afghanistan began documenting civilian casualties.

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