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Taliban's deadly attack on Afghan army base kills 140 young soldiers

Majority of our soldiers were offering Friday prayers at the time of the assault

AFP | PTI  |  Kabul 

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

More than 100 soldiers were killed and wounded in a coordinated attack on an army base in northern Afghanistan, the country's defence ministry said on Saturday.

It is the latest in a string of deadly assaults against an military sites, which underscores rising insecurity in the war-torn country as it braces for an intense fighting season in the spring.


"The majority of our soldiers were offering Friday prayers" at the time of the assault, the ministry said in a statement, adding that "over 100 army forces were martyred and wounded".

Two of the attackers blew themselves up and seven were killed in the assault near city on Friday which lasted several hours and targeted soldiers at a mosque and dining facility.

The toll of the attack came as a military official who was at the base at the time of the assault told AFP that "150 soldiers were killed and dozens wounded".

"They were young recruits who had come for training," he said on condition of anonymity.

A US military spokesman said earlier that "more than 50" soldiers were killed in the attack claimed by the Taliban, while officials had initially put the death toll at eight with 11 wounded.

General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, praised commandos for bringing the "atrocity to an end".

security forces, beset by killings, desertions and non-existent "ghost soldiers" on the payroll, have been struggling to beat back insurgents since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.

According to US watchdog SIGAR, casualties among security forces soared by 35 per cent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed.

Nicholson in February told the US Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington that he needed "a few thousand" more troops to help train and assist the forces.

The US has around 8,400 troops in the country with about another 5,000 from NATO allies assisting a much larger force in the war against the and other Islamist militants.

The facility in Balkh province is home to the army's 209th Corps.

The last major attack against a military site was in early March when gunmen disguised as doctors stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital — the country's largest military hospital -- in Kabul, killing dozens.

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