Dozens of security-force personnel have been killed in an ambush in the northern Afghan province of Takhar that officials blamed on the Taliban.
The precise number of casualties was unclear, but the attack is said to be the deadliest since Taliban and Afghan government negotiators kicked off long-delayed peace talks in Qatar in September.
The security forces were attacked overnight on October 20-21 and fighting lasted for hours, said provincial government spokesman Jawad Hijri, who put the death toll at 25.
Hijri said Takhar’s deputy police chief was among those killed.
"The Taliban had taken positions in the houses around the area. They ambushed our forces who were there for an operation against the enemy," he said.
A security-force member involved in the fighting said that “the forces clashed for several hours and during this time we called several times for support but did not receive any,” according to TOLOnews.
The Taliban did not directly claim responsibility, but said its fighters had "engaged the enemy" in Takhar to retaliate against security operations carried out against the militant group.
Rahim Danish, director of the main hospital in Takhar, said the facility had received 36 dead bodies and that another eight security-force members were wounded.
At least 47 security-force members were killed in the fighting, according to Amir Mohammad Khaksar, a lawmaker from Takhar.
An Afghan security official was quoted as saying several police Humvees were set ablaze.
The attack comes amid rising violence across Afghanistan that is threatening to derail ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.
A Taliban assault by the militants in the southern province of Helmand forced nearly 40,000 civilians to flee their homes this month, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
"Disruptions in telecommunications, the threat of improvised explosive devices, and the continued closure of the highway between Kandahar and Helmand following the destruction of several bridges are adding to the challenges," said Caroline Van Buren, the UNHCR's representative to Afghanistan.