Insurgents have taken control of a district headquarters in western Farah province

Turkey condemns 'heinous' attacks in Afghanistan

Turkey condemns 'heinous' attacks in Afghanistan

This comes after a major air and ground operation was launched by reinforcements.

The fighting in Farah underlines the continuing strength of the Taliban movement, which controls or contests nearly half of Afghanistan, and has so far rejected peace overtures from President Ashraf Ghani.

Violence has been on the rise as Afghan security forces struggle against a surge in attacks by anti-government fighters since the drawdown of foreign forces over the past three years.

The Afghan forces also carried out heavy airstrikes during the day in Anar Dara and more than 50 Taliban fighters were report killed so far, he added.

"The [Taliban] fighters attacked the district offices early in the morning from different directions and have taken over the offices", Dadullah Qane, a member of the provincial council, told Al Jazeera.

The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility saying the district is now under their control.

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Fared Bakhtawar, head of the provincial council, said that seven army commandos and eight police are among the dead.

Several soldiers went missing after the attack during which one armored military vehicle was destroyed and two others were seized by the attackers together with weapons.

No comment was immediately available from USA military headquarters in Kabul.

At least 22 members of the security forces died in the attack. "There are casualties to the police, but we lost contact with them and we have no idea about their condition, including the police chief of the district".

Saturday's attack came ahead of an expected increase in fighting with the end of winter and the approach of spring.

The U.S. military's latest estimates from December show the Afghan government controls or has influence over 56 percent of districts, with insurgents controlling or contesting the rest.

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