KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban attack in northern Afghanistan killed at least 17 local militiamen, an Afghan official said Sunday.
The attack apparently targeted a local militia commander who escaped unharmed, said Jawad Hajri, a spokesman for the governor of Takhar province, where the attack took place late Saturday.
Local Afghan militias commonly operate in remote areas, and are under the command of either the defense or interior ministries.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack came even as Taliban officials have told The Associated Press that a temporary nationwide cease-fire may be in the works.
The Taliban have previously refused all offers of a ceasefire by the Afghan government, except for a three-day truce in June 2018 over the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
The current cease-fire proposal would last a week to 10 days. During that time, a peace deal with the United States would then be signed, the Taliban officials said. Talks between Afghans on both sides of the conflict would follow to decide on the shape of a post-war Afghanistan.
The Taliban shura, or ruling council, is currently debating whether to accept the U.S. cease-fire proposal, the Taliban officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, but were familiar with the ongoing U.S.-Taliban negotiations.
On Monday, an American soldier was killed in combat in the northern Kunduz province. The Taliban claimed they were behind a fatal roadside bombing that targeted American and Afghan forces in Kunduz.
The following day, a Taliban attack on a checkpoint killed at least seven Afghan army soldiers in the northern Balkh province.
Another six Afghan troops were killed in the same province Thursday in an attack on an army base. At least 10 Afghan soldiers were killed Friday in a complex attack on a checkpoint in the southern Helmand province.
The Taliban frequently target Afghan and U.S. forces, as well as government officials. But scores of Afghan civilians are also killed in the crossfire or by roadside bombs planted by militants.