Kabul, April 22:
At least 135 Afghan soldiers were killed and 60 injured in a deadly attack by Taliban militants on an Afghan army base in Balkh province, an official said on Saturday.
Ten Taliban militants were killed by the forces during Friday’s attack on the 209 Shaheen Corps Headquarters, one of the largest military bases in Mazar-e-Sharif city, Tolo News quoted an official as saying on condition of anonymity as the government has not released the official figure.
The Taliban group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The official said the toll is expected to rise further as some of the injured are in critical condition.
Defence Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said Taliban militants wearing army uniforms stormed the compound during Friday prayers.
The militants entered the base in a military vehicle and began shooting at the soldiers as they prayed at a mosque in the base. The attackers used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles.
A spokesman said that 10 militants were killed by the forces.
Afghanistan CEO Abdullah Abdullah has condemned the “cowardly” attack”.
“What Taliban did in Mazar today (Friday) was against all values,” he said.
Former President Hamid Karzai tweeted: “I condemn in strongest terms the terrorist attack on our military base in Mazar-e-Sharif that killed and wounded many of our brave soldiers.”
The NATO Resolute Support Mission also condemned the attack, calling it reprehensible.
General John Nicholson, Commander of NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the attack “shows the barbaric nature of the Taliban”.
“All of us condemn such murderous and reprehensible actions.”
The statement also reaffirmed the NATO’s support to the Afghan forces.
“The Afghan National Defence and Security forces and the people of Afghanistan have my personal assurance that we will continue to stand with them. We support our valuable friends and partners in the fight against terrorism,” it said.
The attack came just two days after Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi visited the base during a trip to Balkh.
It is the second major attack on an Afghan military installation in 2017.
The Taliban in March attacked Sardar Mohammad Daoud military hospital here killing at least 50 persons. (IANS)