KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A Taliban attack in northern Afghanistan killed at least 17 local militiamen, an Afghan official said on Sunday.
The attack apparently struck a local militia commander who escaped unharmed, said Jawad Hajri, spokesman for the governor of Takhar province, where the attack took place late Saturday.
Local Afghan militias often operate in remote areas and are under the command of the Ministries of Defense or Interior.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid took responsibility for the attack.
The attack occurred even as Taliban officials told the Associated Press that a temporary nationwide ceasefire could be underway.
The Taliban had previously turned down all Afghan ceasefire offers except a three-day truce in June 2018 during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
The current ceasefire proposal would last a week to 10 days. During that time, a peace agreement with the United States would be signed, Taliban officials said. Negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the conflict would follow to decide on the shape of postwar Afghanistan.
The Taliban shura, or government council, is currently debating whether to accept the US ceasefire proposal, Taliban officials said. The officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the media but were familiar with the ongoing talks between the US and Taliban.
On Monday, an American soldier was killed in combat in the northern province of Kunduz. The Taliban claimed it was behind a fatal road attack that hit US and Afghan forces in Kunduz.
The next day, a Taliban attack on a checkpoint killed at least seven Afghan army soldiers in northern Balkh province.
Another six Afghan troops were killed in the same province on Thursday in an attack on an army base. At least 10 Afghan soldiers were killed on Friday in a complex attack on a checkpoint in the southern province of Helmand.
The Taliban often attack Afghan and US forces, as well as government officials. But dozens of Afghan civilians are also killed in crossfire or by roadside bombs planted by militants.
Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon contributed to this Islamabad report.
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