(CNN) -- At least three dozen road workers in southeastern Afghanistan were killed early Thursday when Taliban forces attacked their camp, a local Afghan official said.
The incident took place in the Wazai Zadran district of Paktia province. The employees worked for a company doing construction on a highway between the cities of Gardez and Khost, a road used frequently by coalition and government forces.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, saying it objected to the use of the key highway by coalition forces.
Abdullah Durani, the chief director of public works in the province, said militants abducted 72 workers from a camp where they were spending the night and burned 12 vehicles and road-building equipment.
A clash ensued after the abduction, and of those seized, 36 were killed, Durani said.
Rohullah Samoon, a Paktia province spokesman, said about 20 others were injured. Drivers, guards and daily workers were among the casualties.
Samoon said company guards clashed with Taliban fighters, and eight militants were also killed.
CNN's Christine Theodorou and Matiullah Mati contributed to this report.