On Friday, as many as 140 Afghan soldiers were killed in what was termed as the deadliest attack ever made on an Afghan military base. According to officials, Taliban attackers launched the attack as they entered by base dressed in military uniforms. The toll provided by the Defense Ministry stated that ‘over 100’ Afghan soldiers were wounded and killed. The attack occurred in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and an official in the area said on Saturday that the death toll had reached 140. Others predicted that the death toll could go even higher. The information was only provided by the officials on the condition of anonymity because exactly casualty figures haven’t been released by the government as yet.
The predicament of the Afghan government and its supporters is highlighted starkly by this attack. The powerful Taliban insurgency has had its grip on the country for more than the decade and the government is still struggling to weed it out. On Friday, a US official in Washington had said that more than 50 Afghan soldiers had been wounded and killed. The officials revealed that approximately 10 Taliban fighters entered the Afghan base in disguise. They were driving military vehicles and dressed in Afghan army uniforms.
Once they had entered the base, they simply opened fire on the unarmed soldiers who had been leaving a mosque after attending Friday prayers and eating a meal. Rifles and rocket-propelled grenades were used by the attackers and officials also said that several of these Taliban attackers detonated suicide vests that were packed with explosives. One army officer who had been wounded in the attack said that there was utter chaos and he had no idea what to do. They had been surrounded by explosions and gunfire. The base under attack is responsible for most of northern Afghanistan, which includes the Kunduz province that has been subject to heavy fighting.
It is also the headquarters for the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army. A statement was made by Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, on Saturday. He said that the attack was basically revenge because senior Taliban leaders had been killed recently in northern Afghanistan. Mujahid said that four of the men who were involved in the attack were Taliban sympathizers who had chosen to infiltrate the army and had been serving for a while now. The Afghan army didn’t offer any confirmation for this claim.
The base where the attack occurred is the place where the NATO-led military campaign deploys advisers for assisting and training Afghan forces. However, the coalition officers said that no international troops had been part of the attack. US General John Nicholson, the commander of the coalition forces, said in a statement on Friday that the barbaric nature of the Taliban was made obvious by the attack carried out on the 209th Corps. Confirmation regarding the number of dead Afghan soldiers has not been provided by the government itself and there is still confusion surrounding the people involved in it.