More than 20 Afghan policemen and dozens of Taliban insurgents were killed Friday when hundreds of fighters ambushed a police and military convoy in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.
The five-hour battle in the Sherzad district of Nangarhar province was described by provincial officials as "intense" after the convoy was attacked as it returned from an operation to rescue a politician being threatened by the Taliban.
"It was an intense battle and insurgents used heavy and light weapons to attack the convoy of our security forces in Sherzad district," Nangarhar deputy police chief Masoom Khan Hashemi told AFP.
"We lost 22 of our brave policemen, but the militants have been taught a lesson of our strength, their attack was completely repelled and 60 of their fighters were killed," Hashemi said, adding that a further 16 insurgents were killed during the rescue of the politician.
The account was confirmed by provincial spokesman Ahmadzia Abdulzai.
"The military and police launched a successful operation in the district killing 16 Taliban. On their way back they were ambushed in which 60 Taliban were killed. Unfortunately 22 policemen were also martyred in the fighting," he said.
The Taliban, who have been waging a bloody decade-long insurgency against the Western-backed Kabul government, claimed only five of their fighters and 84 government soldiers were killed in the battle.