Disguised as soldiers, a Taliban commando penetrated an Afghan base in Mazar-i-Sharif, northern Afghanistan. They attacked soldiers leaving the local mosque after Friday prayers. The base serves as headquarters for the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps. It also houses 70 NATO advisers and German soldiers.
Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – As many 140 Afghan people, mostly soldiers, were killed on Friday by a Taliban attack against an Afghan military base in Mazar-i-Sharif, northern Afghanistan.
The Afghan government has not yet issued an official statement on the number of victims, which could be higher, in what is the deadliest attack ever on an Afghan military base.
The attack was launched near a mosque on the base as soldiers were leaving Friday prayers. The number of attackers is still unclear, but ten terrorists have been reported killed.
Six attackers in two military vehicles told guards at the gates that they were carrying wounded soldiers and urgently needed to enter, army spokesman Nasratullah Jamshidi said.
Once inside they headed for the mosque to attack soldiers leaving after prayer with rocket-propelled grenades and guns.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attackers set off an explosion, allowing suicide bombers with small arms to breach the base’s defences. After this, “Our fighters have inflicted heavy casualties on the Afghan army stationed there,” he said.
The Mazar-i-Sharif base is in Balkh province, and serves as the headquarters for the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps, responsible for much of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz province, a Taliban stronghold.
A number of German and other foreign soldiers are based in Mazar-i-Sharif, including about 70 who advise the corps headquarters as part of a NATO-led multinational mission to advise and train the Afghan security forces.
“To our knowledge, no Germans were affected. Nor were any other soldiers in the multinational force harmed,” said a spokesman for the German Operations Command.
The NATO command in Kabul called the attack “murderous and reprehensible”. US military spokesman John Thomas described the attack as a "significant" strike.