The Taliban killed at least 26 pro-government militiamen Saturday in northern Afghanistan, officials said according to Reuters. The killings occurred as the U.S. and the Taliban were set to begin the seventh round of peace talks in Qatar. The talks will be led by U.S. Peace Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad. Khalilzad has held six rounds of talks with the Taliban since October 2018. A senior U.S. official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to media, told Reuters that before the latest violence was reported there was “a genuine sense of expectation on both sides... it’s a make-or-break moment.” A provincial police spokesman said that the attack killed 26, however, a Taliban spokesman said that 28 were killed and 12 were injured. After talks in Kabul this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he hoped a peace pact could be finished by Sept. 1.