FAYZABAD, Afghanistan, July 26 (UPI) -- Taliban forces captured and released more than 100 police officers in northeastern Afghanistan after taking away their weapons, according to officials.
The incident follows a three-day battle for a police base in the Wardoj district of Badakhshan province, the BBC reports.
Officials say a deal between the police and Taliban commanders facilitated the officers' release, which was reportedly confirmed in a Taliban statement. It is the largest surrender of Afghan forces since the NATO coalition officially handed over the security operation in December 2014.
Some blamed the surrender on the central government's failure to reinforce the base, but the BBC quoted Badakhshan police chief Gen. Baba Jan as saying heavy rains impeded road travel into the area, which has steep valleys that make aircraft landings difficult.
The attack was part of the Taliban's annual spring offensive, when attacks typically see a dramatic increase.
The militants claimed to have killed dozens of police officers in raids against checkpoints -- some manned by two to three police officers -- in remote areas of Helmand province last month.
Multiple roadside and suicide bombings have targeted police officers and other Afghan security forces in July, including a suicide car bomb attack on a checkpoint near Camp Chapman, adjacent to the city of Khost, Afghanistan, that killed 25 people and an improvised explosive devise that killed three people in Kandahar as a police unit patrolled by.
U.S. and Afghan officials in June estimated about 330 Afghan soldiers and police were being killed or wounded each week in Taliban attacks -- a 70 percent increase for the first 15 weeks of 2015 over the same period last year.
Early last month, Afghan and Taliban leaders were reported to have met for informal talks in Norway, though Afghan President Ashraf Ghani noted the representatives were civil and political figures who were "not representing the government of Afghanistan."
In early July, Afghan government officials and Taliban leaders met near Islamabad, Pakistan, for the first formal face-to-face talks between both sides. The negotiations reportedly gained the support of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.