Mazar-i-sharif, Balkh Province, Northern Afghanistan – US Central Command reported that a group of Taliban infiltrated an Afghan Army Post during Muslims’ Juma prayers on Friday night, killing over 130, and wounding at least 80 others. The Taliban were dressed in Army uniforms. Details are still emerging, and the numbers are changing minute by minute.
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The numbers reported by Fox were 130, New York Times, 140, Washington Post, 160.
At least 160 dead after Taliban attack on major Afghan army base, official says https://t.co/tRldGqwjKw
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Ten Taliban attackers came to the compound of the Afghan Army’s 209th Corps in two vehicles, telling the guards at the gate that they had wounded soldiers who needed immediate medical attention. Then they opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and guns.
About 70 German coalition advisers are stationed at the base, as well as other forces, but Col. John J. Thomas, the U.S. Central Command spokesman, said that there were no coalition casualties to their knowledge.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. They bragged that there were two suicide bombers who blew holes in the defenses of the base. Reuters reported,
“Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attackers had set off an explosion, allowing suicide bombers with small arms to breach the base’s defenses.”
There were 10 attackers, including the two who carried out the suicide attacks, Gen. Daulat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense, said. Eight others were killed in a gun battle with soldiers.
There are approximately 8,500 US troops in Afghanistan. Then there are NATO forces under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that are reportedly spread in four spokes: Mazar-e Sharif in the north, Herat in the west, Kandahar in the south, and Laghman in the east.
Taliban influence has been growing, but was not considered serious yet in the North. This incident calls into question whether or not Afghan forces will be able to get rid of them.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has declared an official day of mourning for Sunday.
Featured photo- screenshot of Afghan Army base via Al-Jazeera.
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