The provincial governor's office said 16 other troops were wounded in the attack that began Friday and continued into Saturday in Wahser district.

In this picture taken on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, Afghan army commandos take part in a training session in the Shorab military camp in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
In this picture taken on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, Afghan army commandos take part in a training session in the Shorab military camp in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP)

Taliban gunmen targeted an Afghan army corps at their camp in southern Helmand province, killing at least 23 soldiers, officials said Saturday.

At least 20 Taliban gunmen were also killed.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said 16 other troops were wounded in the attack that began Friday and continued into Saturday in Wahser district.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement the group was responsible for the attack, which came even as Taliban negotiators met for talks with a US peace envoy in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar.

He said Taliban fighters engaged both Afghan and foreign forces inside the camp and killed "scores."

Zwak said US advisers were present in the base, but in a separate area. "The foreign forces present at the base were all safe as the Taliban could not reach that part of the compound," he said.

Zwak said the attack began when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at Shorab camp. 

He said three other suicide bombers also blew themselves up as gunmen followed behind them. 

In recent years, the Taliban and Daesh have carried out near-daily attacks in Afghanistan, mainly targeting the government and its security forces.

The Taliban control several district centers in Helmand, which is a major source of the world's illegal opium supply.

Camp Shorab was previously a British air base known as Camp Bastion.

In northern Sari Pul province, Taliban ambushed a convoy of Afghan security forces, killing nine, said Zabihullah Amani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Amani said 12 other forces were wounded during the battle with insurgents that lasted seven hours Friday in Sangcharak district. "Four security forces are missing and believe to be taken alive by the insurgents," he said.

The forces were just returning from an operation in the district when they came under heavy fire, Amani said.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Source: AP