Afghan Official Says Taliban Killed Eight Soldiers In Northern Attack

An Afghan official says the Taliban killed at least eight members of the country's security forces after attacking a checkpoint in the northern Balkh Province.

Adil Shah Adil, the police spokesman in Balkh, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afganistan on April 2 that five other security service personnel were injured in the overnight clash, which took place in the Sholgara district.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, though Adil blamed the extremist Taliban group. The Taliban is quite active in Sholgara and has struck several checkpoints in that district.

Adil said the Taliban also suffered casualties in the long shoot-out that followed the attack, though he did not know how many.

The Taliban has stepped up attacks against Afghan officials and security forces around the country despite the group's officials holding talks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Kabul in an effort to reach a peace agreement to end the country's 17-year war.

Meanwhile, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said on April 2 that Afghan forces had retaken control of the Arghanj Khaw district in the northeast province of Badakhshan.

The district had fallen to the Taliban on March 30 after heavy fighting that killed at least 12 Afghan troops.

With reporting by AP and dpa