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Afghan officials: 100 casualties in Afghanistan attack

23 April 2017

Afghan officials have said more than 100 soldiers were killed or wounded in the assault on the base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif Friday, the latest and potentially deadliest in a string of attacks on military targets.

Daulat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense, said Saturday that the attack a day earlier on a compound of the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army killed or wounded dozens of soldiers and other personnel.

Experts say that terrorist attacks on Afghan lands have been unstoppable, with United States troops officially guarantying their presence in the Asian region for more than 15 years, with alleged anti-terrorist purposes that did not show results during the military intervention.

The assault began as soldiers were observing Friday prayers at Camp Shaheen near Mazar-e Sharif, one of the nation's most populated and developed cities, the Afghan military said.

Once on the compound, they targeted a mosque full of unarmed soldiers performing Friday prayers.

There are now about 8,400 US troops and another 5,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in the country, and Nicholson and other USA military officials have said several thousand more are needed to continue training and supporting Afghan forces.

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The attack came weeks after militants entered the Afghan Army's main hospital in Kabul, the capital, and killed more than 50 people in a siege that lasted almost seven hours. All were dressed in Afghan military uniforms, down to helmets and kneepads.

The attack Friday was seen as another major blow for President Ashraf Ghani's shaky USA -backed government, which, apart from facing rising violence by militants, is also locked in a growing internal power struggle.

The Mazar-e Sharif base is home to the Afghan National Army's 209 Corps, whose primary function is to provide security in the country's northern region.

After a brief argument, the attackers shot and killed the two guards and sped toward the third and final checkpoint, which they hit with a rocket-propelled grenade before racing into the base itself.

According to a report by The New York Times, President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Balkh Province on Saturday to visit the army base.

The Taliban in March attacked Sardar Mohammad Daoud military hospital here killing at least 50 persons.

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"Today, there was even a shortage of coffins", said a senior official, Ibrahim Khairandish, a member of the provincial council in Balkh Province, where the attack occurred.

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

Afghan soldiers and police "will extend these operations until the terrorists are finished", the ministry said in a statement.

"India condemns in the strongest terms the deplorable terrorist attack in Mazar-e-Sharif on 21 April resulting in loss of lives, including the courageous personnel of the Afghan National Defence Forces".

ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack last month on Kabul's heavily fortified diplomatic quarter.

The Western-backed Afghan government is locked in a prolonged war with Taliban insurgents and other militant groups.

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