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Taliban fighters attack Afghan army base, 'killing 140'

Fighters dressed in military uniforms attack major army base in Balkh province as soldiers leave Friday prayers.

Taliban fighters attack Afghan army base, 'killing 140'

Fighters dressed in military uniforms attack major army base in Balkh province as soldiers leave Friday prayers.

22 April 2017 Saturday 10:14
Taliban fighters attack Afghan army base, 'killing 140'

As many 140 Afghan soldiers were killed on Friday by Taliban attackers apparently disguised in military uniforms in what would be the deadliest attack ever on an Afghan military base, officials say.

One official in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the attack occurred, said on Saturday at least 140 soldiers were killed and many others wounded.

Other officials said the toll was likely to be even higher.

The attack was launched near a mosque on the base as soldiers were leaving Friday prayers, said army spokesman Nasratullah Jamshidi.

Six attackers in two military vehicles told guards at the gates that they were carrying wounded soldiers and urgently needed to enter, he said.

"In total, there were 10 attackers involved in the attack on the Afghan army corps. Seven of them were killed, two blew themselves up, and one was detained by Afghan forces," defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told AFP news agency.

The base is the headquarters of the Afghan National Army's 209th Corps. It covers most of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz province, which has been the scene of heavy fighting.

Al Jazeera's Rob McBride, reporting from the capital Kabul, said the assailants had been surrounded by Afghan commandos.

"The attack followed a familiar pattern with a suicide bomb ramming into the gates of the base and detonating. After that the attackers were able to get inside," McBride reported, quoting an interior ministry statement.

"The attackers were heavily armed with suicide vests and automatic weapons, trying to cause as much damage as they can."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assault.

"Our fighters have inflicted heavy casualties on the Afghan army stationed there," he said.

The NATO command in Kabul called the attack "murderous and reprehensible".

The Western-backed Afghan government is locked in a prolonged war with the Taliban, as well as other armed groups. The country has seen rising violence since the US-led invasion in October 2001 ousted the Taliban-led government.

Aljazeera

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