KABUL, Afghanistan -- The Taliban stormed checkpoints in northern and western Afghanistan, killing at least eight members of the country's security forces and in one attack, setting off an hours-long gunbattle, provincial officials said as a U.S. envoy arrived in Kabul on Monday to push for peace talks.
According to Zabihullah Amani, spokesman for the provincial governor in northern Sari Pul province, five security forces were killed in an attack there in Sozma Qala district that started late on Sunday night. The fighting lasted until Monday morning and also left two troops wounded.
The insurgents captured six soldiers before fleeing the scene and their fate remains unknown, Amani said. The checkpoints were later retaken and the area was brought under control once reinforcements arrived.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Amani blamed the Taliban who are active in the province and have stepped up their attacks on Afghan security forces.
Separately, the Taliban on Monday overran an army checkpoint in western Badghis province, killing three soldiers, said Jamshid Shahabi, spokesman for provincial governor. Four other soldiers were wounded and two were missing after Taliban attack in the district of Bal Murgahb.
Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in Badghis.
Meanwhile, U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted that he arrived in Kabul and met with Afghan government officials on Monday. "We discussed the urgency of making progress on intra-Afghan dialogue," he said.
Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban, most recently last month in Qatar where both sides said progress has been made.
But despite the talks, the Taliban stage near-daily attacks on Afghan forces, inflicting staggering casualties, and now hold sway over half of the country. Also, the insurgents refuse to talk directly with the government in Kabul, considering it a U.S. puppet.