KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan officials say a Taliban attack against pro-government forces has killed at least 25 in the northern province of Baghlan.

District chief Fazeluddin Muradi says that the insurgents’ attack also wounded at least eight pro-government fighters, during several hours of battle late Friday in the area of Nahrin.

A police official, who was not authorized to speak on the issue, confirmed the high death toll.

Taliban did not immediately claim the attack, but recently the militant group has stepped up its offensive against Afghan security forces.

The U.S. is opening Saturday in Qatar a fresh round of peace talks with the militants to end the country’s long-running civil war.