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At least 13 troops killed, 12 captured in Taliban attacks on Afghan army posts

A mushroom cloud rises into the air following an airstrike on confirmed enemy positions during a patrol near Forward Operating Base Shir Ghazi, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 28, 2013. (Cpl. Paul Peterson/U.S. Marine Corps)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Taliban fighters have launched attacks on several army posts in western Afghanistan, killing at least 13 Afghan soldiers, officials say.

Jamshid Shahabi, a spokesman for Badghis Province’s governor, said on March 12 that 42 militants were also killed and 15 troops were wounded in the fighting in the province bordering Turkmenistan.

The fate of a dozen other soldiers is unknown, according to Shahabi.

Defense Ministry spokesman Qais Mangal said that government reinforcements backed by air support had been sent to Bala Murghab district after the Taliban launched its offensive late on March 9.

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He said that a total of 20 soldiers were killed and 20 others were captured in the battles.

The Taliban overran four posts, Mangal said, adding that the fighting was “still on.”

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousof Ahmadi confirmed that the group was behind the attack, saying that 28 soldiers were captured.

The offensive comes as U.S. and Taliban negotiators are holding peace talks in Qatar aimed at ending the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been absent from the negotiations, with the Taliban insisting it will not engage with a Western “puppet.”