As many as 100 Afghan security forces killed in Taliban attack

Attack on a military base and police training centre comes a day after an assault in Logar province that killed eight.

Taliban attack - Afghanistan
Taliban claimed responsibility for the coordinated assault, carried out using a car bomb that detonated at the gate of the base [Reuters]

Dozens of Afghan security forces were killed when armed Taliban fighters attacked a military base about 44km southwest of Kabul on Monday.

Afghan officials say the death toll is at least 45, according to the Associated Press news agency, while others put it higher.

Provincial Council Member Nafisa Selai Wardak said at least 126 members were killed in the attack that began Monday morning when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vehicle outside the base in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Wardak province.

Another provincial council member, Khawanin Sultani, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the attack also left more than 70 wounded.

Intially the government had said 12 people were killed and about 30 were wounded.

Afghan Taliban cancel peace talks with US officials in Qatar (2:41)

Some of the injured were in provincial hospitals, while the more serious cases were being treated in Kabul, said Salem Asgherkhail, head of the area’s public health department.

The New York Times reported the base was a training centre for the country’s national intelligence service, the NDS.

If true, this would be the intelligence agency’s largest single loss of life in the 17-year war. 

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the coordinated attack, according to Nasrat Rahimi, the deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

Armed Taliban fighters then moved in, a tactic the group has used in many previous attacks.

The attack came a day after a Taliban assault in the neighbouring Logar province killed eight security forces.

The Taliban has been on the offensive in recent months, attacking targets around the country in an apparent effort to expand their influence and perhaps to gain more leverage in any future peace talks. 

According to data from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Taliban controls or contests nearly half of Afghanistan.

Since July, the US has tried to restart a peace process with the Taliban. US officials have met Taliban representatives in a number of countries. The Taliban has refused to meet Afghan government officials, calling them “puppets”.

US Senator Lindsey Graham said in Pakistan on Sunday President Donald Trump should meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as soon as possible to reset long-difficult US relations and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

US relations with Pakistan have been strained by suspicions that elements in the Pakistani establishment were aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad strongly denies. However, relations have appeared to improve in recent months amid efforts to push the armed group towards a peace deal.


Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies