KABUL - Afghan security forces have retaken a district in the north of the country, killing 30 Taliban fighters and capturing vehicles and weapons from the insurgents, the defence ministry said on Sunday.

The recapture is a welcome piece of good news for government forces, which have struggled to contain the spreading Taliban insurgency since international troops wound up most combat operations at the end of 2014. Combined army, police and special forces units took back Darqad district, on the border with Tajikistan, in the early hours of Sunday, the defence ministry said. “A clearance operation is going on and the situation is under control,” it added.

The Taliban briefly captured the northern Afghan city of Kunduz last year and have overrun large parts of the southern province of Helmand, where the United States has launched air strikes and deployed special forces to help badly squeezed Afghan troops and police. The fighting has continued as Afghan and Pakistani officials, along with counterparts from China and the United States, prepare for meetings in Islamabad next week to lay the ground for possible peace talks with the Taliban.

Last week a US soldier became the first American killed in Afghanistan in 2016 while two more were wounded, more than a year after foreign combat troops were withdrawn. Observers say the intensifying insurgency highlights a push by the militants to seize more territory in a bid to wrangle greater concessions during talks.