No further information immediately available.
Published Tuesday, January 22, 2019
More than 100 security forces members have been killed in a Taliban assault on a military base in eastern Afghanistan, authorities said.
An interior ministry spokesperson said a suicide car bomber struck the base first, followed by insurgents who opened fire at the Afghan forces in Maidan Shar, the capital of Maidan Wardak province.
An official in the defence ministry, speaking anonymously, told Reuters the death toll was as high as 126.
"We have information that 126 people have been killed in the explosion inside the military training center," the official said.
The government had previously claimed only 12 soldiers were killed in the attack. All the gunman who stormed the base after the suicide car bomb died during the firefight, a provincial official said earlier.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack shortly afterwards. The assault came just one day after a suicide bomber from the Islamist insurgent group targeted the convoy of the governor of Logar province. Seven of the governor's bodyguards were killed in the blast, but the governor escaped unharmed.
The military base in Maidan Wardak which was attacked earlier on Monday is reportedly a training centre run by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan's main intelligence agency.
Eyewitnesses reported a stolen US-made armoured Humvee paced with explosives was driven into the facility, before gunmen wearing NDS uniforms opened fire.
The president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, condemned the assault in a statement, calling it a terrorist act by "enemies of the country" and expressed his condolences for the families of those killed and injured. "They killed and wounded a number of our beloved and honest sons," he said.
The three-figure death toll would make this the single deadliest attack by the Taliban on government security forces in the 17 years of their long-running insurgency.
A former provincial official told Reuters he had spoken with the NDS in the province who confirmed over 100 members of the agency had been killed.
Another local official, Sharif Hotak, saw the bodies of at least 35 Afghan security forces in the hospital and said many more had also been killed.
"The government was hiding the accurate casualty figures to prevent a further dip in morale of the Afghan forces," he claimed.
The explosion was very powerful. The whole building has collapsed." An interior ministry official in Kabul admitted there had been an effort to cover up the extent of the casualties. "I have been told not to make the death toll figures public. It is frustrating to hide the facts," he said.
Last year, Mr Ghani said 28,000 Afghan police officers and soldiers had been killed in just the last three years.
Even as the Taliban stepped up its armed campaign against the Afghan government, the group embarked on a fresh round of peace talks with American representatives in Qatar.
Maidan Shar Terrorist Attack Facts
Affected Area: 1 km.
Alert Level: Green
- Maidan Shar Terrorist Attack
- Kabul Terrorist Attack
- Afghanistan Flash Flood
- Afghanistan Terrorist Attack
- Kabul Terror Attack
- Afghanistan Terror Attack
- Afghanistan Drought
- Afghanistan Terror Attack
- Mudslide Afghanistan
- Afghanistan Earthquake