Afghan National Army soldiers from the 209th Corps march on their base in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. (Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

Hundreds of Taliban Fighters Storm Afghan Border District

(Bloomberg) -- At least 50 Afghan troops were killed or wounded in an ongoing battle in a northern district bordering Turkmenistan after it was stormed by about 500 Taliban fighters late Wednesday.

Taliban militants overran several check posts in the Bala Murghab district, said Abdul Aziz Beg, the head of the Western Badghis provincial council, who confirmed the casualty numbers. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed in a statement said tens of Afghan soldiers were killed and wounded.

The fighting is “tense” and airstrikes are being launched against the Taliban as deputy defense minister, General Yasin Zia, arrived in the area on Thursday to help boost morale and reinforce the Afghan army, said Qais Mangal, a spokesman for the defense ministry. Mangal wasn’t able to provide figures on the numbers killed or wounded and claimed that the Taliban suffered “heavy casualties” and were on the run.

The Taliban have launched a fresh wave of attacks as part of its usual Spring offensive, even as its leadership continues to hold peace talks with the U.S. with the aim to end the now 18-year conflict.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the U.S. and its NATO allies had made “great strides in Afghanistan,” but that the war was also “unfortunate” and “ridiculous.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.