A Taliban suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden car into an Afghan army compound and detonated it, killing six soldiers and injuring others on Dec. 25, according to Afghanistan’s Defense ministry.
After the a explosion outside the army base in the northern province of Balkh, a group of insurgents entered the army premises starting a shootout with Afghan forces, according to the Associated Press. Three Afghan soldiers were injured in the explosion and the ensuing shootout on Thursday morning.
Local media, however, reported a higher death toll. According to Tolo News, the attack happened on Wednesday night and killed 10 Afghan soldiers and injured seven others. It doesn’t provide further details about the attack.
The provincial governor’s spokesman, Munir Farhad, told the media that the fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan army continued for many hours after the explosion and until the insurgents were finally repelled, according to AP.
The Taliban, however, denied the reporting by the Defense Ministry and said that it inflicted many more casualties on the Afghan army, captured the base, and seized huge quantities of weapons and ammunition.
The Taliban’s claims were refuted by the Defense Ministry, saying the insurgents didn’t capture the base. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims on such attacks, according to AP.
The Taliban has been active in Balkh in recent days. In another attack, it killed seven soldiers of the Afghan army at a checkpoint in Dawlat Abad district on Tuesday, reported Tolo News. Six others were injured in the attack—three soldiers and three intelligence agents.
The Taliban now control or hold sway over practically half of Afghanistan but continue to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and U.S. forces, as well as government officials, even as they hold peace talks with a U.S. envoy tasked with negotiating an end to the 18-year conflict—America’s longest war. Scores of Afghan civilians are also killed in the crossfire or by roadside bombs planted by extremists.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Taliban kidnapped 27 members of The People’s Peace Movement (PPM), a group that marches for peace across Afghanistan, according to the Tol0 News.
When the kidnapping happened the group was marching from Herat on Farah road. While the PPM has blamed the Taliban for the kidnapping, the Taliban has not claimed any responsibility.
This is the fourth time that the Taliban has kidnapped PPM members. The last time it happened, the Taliban had kept them captive for a few days.
Associated Press contributed to this report.