March 20 (UPI) -- A pre-dawn attack Friday at a security checkpoint killed more than two dozen soldiers and police officers in Afghanistan's Zabul province, officials said.
Authorities said 25 were killed in the assault, and investigators believe several members of the Afghan security forces aided in the attack at a joint police and army headquarters building in Qalat.
"The attackers had connections with the Taliban insurgents," Zabul provincial chief Ata Jan Haq Bayan said.
The assault in Zabul, a longtime militant stronghold, came as Afghan and Taliban leaders negotiate terms of a peace deal that was brokered earlier this month between the militant group and U.S. officials. The agreement aims to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of constant presence.
Officials said Taliban fighters and the Afghan conspirators fled in military vehicles and took weapons and ammunition.
Thursday, Afghan Defense Minister Assadullah Khalid said security forces are planning to take a more aggressive "active defensive status" against the Taliban.