The Taliban staged a complex attack that killed at least 10 Afghan soldiers in the southern Helmand province, an Afghan official said Saturday.\r\nA powerful explosion first hit an army checkpoint late Friday, followed by an hours-long gun battle, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor. The attack also wounded four soldiers, he said.\r\nTaliban spokesman Qari Yusouf Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the insurgents also seized weapons and ammunition. The extremist group has a strong presence in Helmand province, especially in Sangin district where the attack took place.\r\nThe Taliban have increased their attacks in recent days against Afghan army bases and checkpoints across different provinces.\r\nA similar attack killed six Afghan soldiers on Thursday, when a suicide bomber detonated his car laden with explosives outside an army compound in the northern Balkh province. Militants then stormed the compound. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.\r\nOn Tuesday, another attack on a checkpoint in Balk province killed at least seven Afghan soldiers. At the time, the Taliban said they also captured four Afghan troops and seized weapons and ammunition.\r\nOn Monday, an American soldier was killed in combat in northern Kunduz province. The Taliban claimed they were behind a fatal roadside bombing that targeted American and Afghan forces in Kunduz.\r\nThe Taliban now control or hold sway over practically half of Afghanistan. The extremist group continues to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and US forces, as well as government officials, even as they hold peace talks with a US envoy tasked with negotiating an end to the 18-year conflict, America's longest war. Scores of Afghan civilians are also killed in the crossfire or by roadside bombs planted by militants.