At least 18 soldiers of the Afghan National Army were killed by Taliban insurgents in north-eastern Afghanistan, a government official said on Wednesday.

“A national army logistic convoy was heading from Faizabad city to Wardooj district late Monday, which was ambushed by the Taliban militants near the district,” Abdul Maroof Rasekh, spokesman for Badakhshan province said.

“Two soldiers were killed and six others injured in the gun battle with the enemy,” Rasekh said, adding that the insurgents kidnapped 23 other soldiers.

The enemy shot dead 16 soldiers, but seven others were released, unhurt, at tribal elders’ request, he said. “The bodies of dead soldiers were also handed over to local elders.” Members of the Taliban movement confirmed the incident, saying all the 16 soldiers were killed during the fire exchange.

“Fifteen soldiers were killed on the spot and one, who was seriously injured, died in the mujahedeen (freedom fighters) custody,” the insurgents spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement.

He said that 11 captive soldiers were freed in an exchange with Taliban fighters.