Taliban kill 10 Afghan soldiers in attack on base

The militants dug a tunnel and then blew it up before their fighters attacked the compound

epa08076917 Afghan security forces patrol in Helmand, Afghanistan, 17 December 2019. Security patrol are intensified in Helmand after the Taliban and the US resumed peace talks in Doha, Qatar. The peace negotiations were earlier abruptly suspended three months ago by US President Donald Trump, after an attack in Kabul in which an American soldier lost his life.  EPA/WATAN YAR
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The Taliban killed 10 Afghan soldiers in a sophisticated attack on a military base in the southern province of Helmand, according to officials.

It comes after the militant group had restarted peace talks with the United States in Qatar. It views the Afghan government and military as puppets of the United States.

In the attack on Saturday, the Taliban dug a tunnel into the base in volatile Sangin district and then blew it up before their fighters could attack the compound, Nawab Zadran, a spokesman for 215 Maiwand Army Corps in southern Afghanistan, said.

"There were 18 soldiers in the base at the time of the attack providing security for the people of Sangin. Four soldiers were wounded and four repelled the Taliban attack bravely," he said.

Provincial spokesman Omar Zawak confirmed the attack and said the soldiers were killed by the powerful blast inside the base.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement sent to media claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack in Helmand comes as local and international forces brace for another deadly winter amid US-Taliban talks to end the violence in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, seven Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on a base in the northern province of Balkh.

Winter once marked a slowdown in the so-called "fighting season", with Taliban fighters returning to their villages while snow and ice made attacks more difficult to pull off.

But in recent years, the distinction between seasons has all but vanished.

Deadly violence continues to grip Afghanistan even as the US and the Taliban negotiate on-off talks aimed at reducing America's military footprint in the country in return for the insurgents ensuring an improved security situation.

On Monday, an American soldier was killed in combat in northern Kunduz province. The Taliban claimed they were behind a fatal roadside bombing that targeted American and Afghan forces in Kunduz.

The Taliban now control or hold sway over practically half of Afghanistan. The insurgents continue to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and US forces, as well as government officials, even as they hold peace talks with a US 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 militants.