|Afghan soldiers killed in Taliban attack on army base in Mazar-I-Sharif reached to 140
As many 140 Afghan soldiers were killed by Taliban attackers apparently disguised in military uniforms in Afghanistan’s Mazar-I-Sharif
Mazar-I-Sharif/Kabul: As many as 140 Afghan soldiers were killed on Friday by Taliban attackers apparently disguised in military uniforms in what would be the deadliest attack ever on an Afghan military base, officials said.
The Defence Ministry said the toll was “over 100” Afghan soldiers killed and wounded.
One official in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the attack occurred, said on Saturday at least 140 soldiers were killed and many others wounded. Other officials said the toll was likely to be even higher.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the government has yet to release exact casualty figures.
The attack starkly highlighted the struggle by the Afghan government and its international backers to defeat a potent Taliban insurgency that has gripped Afghanistan for more than a decade.
A US official in Washington on Friday had put the toll at more than 50 killed and wounded.
As many as 10 Taliban fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, made their way onto the base and opened fire on mostly unarmed soldiers eating a meal and leaving a mosque after Friday prayers, according to officials.
The attackers used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, and several detonated suicide vests packed with explosive, they said.
Witnesses described a scene of confusion as soldiers were uncertain who the attackers were.
“It was a chaotic scene and I didn’t know what to do,” said one army officer wounded in the attack. “There was gunfire and explosions everywhere.”
The base is the headquarters for the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps, responsible for much of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz province where there has been heavy fighting.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement on Saturday the attack was retribution for the recent killing of several senior Taliban leaders in northern Afghanistan.
Four of the attackers were Taliban sympathisers who had infiltrated the army and served for some time, Mujahid said.
That claim has not been confirmed by the Afghan army.
The NATO-led military coalition deploys advisers to the base where the attack occurred to train and assist the Afghan forces but coalition officials said no international troops were involved in the attack.
“The attack on the 209th Corps today shows the barbaric nature of the Taliban,” the commander of coalition forces, US General John Nicholson, said in a statement on Friday.
|Afghan base attack: More than 140 feared dead in Taliban raid
||Ehsan Popalzai, Jason Hanna and Joe Sterling,
The Taliban's deadly raid Friday on a northern army base that killed or wounded more than 100 people was revenge for the deaths of two of its officials in the region, a spokesman for the group told CNN.
As many as 140 people may have been killed in the attack, sources close to the situation told CNN. The sources are officials who requested anonymity so as not to interfere with the Ministry of Defense or Ministry of Interior, which are responsible for reporting official tolls.
Zabiullah Mujahid told CNN in an email Saturday that the attack was undertaken because pro-Afghan government forces killed two Taliban shadow governors in the northern provinces of Kunduz and Baghlan.
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. The city is in Balkh province and the base is the headquarters of the 209th Shaheen Corps.
Dawlat Waziri, an Afghan Ministry of Defense spokesman, declined to give a more precise accounting of dead and wounded but said one would be released later.
Taliban fighters dressed in military uniforms raided the army base in northern Afghanistan, raking it with gunfire in an hours-long attack that left more than 100 soldiers dead or wounded, officials said.
The uniformed attackers entered the base in vehicles and opened fire, Afghan army spokesman Abdul Qahar Araam said. The gunfire was followed by an explosion at one of the base's gates.
The attack lasted six hours. By the end, at least five attackers were killed and one was arrested, Araam said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has declared Sunday to be a national day of mourning in remembrance of the Afghan forces killed on the base. The Afghan national flag will be flown at half-staff in Afghanistan and its missions.
Breaking a 'stalemate'
The massive attack is a setback for the Afghan government and its coalition allies faced with a persistent Taliban insurgency and the presence of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
US troops have been fighting there for nearly 16 years against a resilient Taliban.
In February, Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that leadership assesses "the current security situation in Afghanistan as a stalemate."
"We remain concerned about multiple critical factors," he said.
He cited the government's stability; Afghan military casualties; the influence of Pakistan, Russia and Iran; "the convergence" of various terror groups; the narcotics trade and corruption.
There are 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan and 6,000 troops from NATO and allied counties. Nicholson said the coalition faces "a shortfall of a few thousand troops" to break the "stalemate."
From January 1 through November 12 last year, 6,785 Afghan national security forces were killed, according to the latest quarterly report of the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.
The agency's analysis of information from US forces in Afghanistan "suggests that the security situation in Afghanistan has not improved this quarter."
"The numbers of the Afghan security forces are decreasing, while both casualties and the number of districts under insurgent control or influence are increasing," according to the January 30 report to Congress.
Congress created the office "to provide independent and objective oversight of Afghanistan reconstruction projects and activities."
The Taliban action comes more than a week after the US military dropped America's most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan, killing 94 ISIS fighters.
ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack last month on Kabul's heavily fortified diplomatic quarter.
National security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster recently visited Afghanistan as Washington considers a full "strategy review." of policy toward that country.
"In recent years, at a period of our maximum effort, we didn't have as reliable a partner in the Afghan government as we would've liked," McMaster said. "Now we have a much more reliable Afghan partner and we have reduced considerably the degree and scope of our effort."
|‘A Shortage of Coffins’ After Taliban Slaughter Unarmed Soldiers
||New York Times
||MUJIB MASHAL and NAJIM RAHIMAPRIL
KABUL, Afghanistan — They looked like Afghan Army soldiers returning from the front lines, carrying the bodies of wounded comrades as part of the ruse.
Dressed in military uniforms, a squad of 10 Taliban militants drove in two army Ford Ranger trucks past seven checkpoints. They arrived inside northern Afghanistan’s largest military installation just as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unarmed soldiers were emerging from Friday Prayers and preparing for lunch.
For the next five hours, the militants went on a rampage, killing at least 140 soldiers and officers in what is emerging as the single deadliest known attack on an Afghan military base in the country’s 16-year war. Some assailants blew themselves up among the soldiers fleeing for their lives, according to survivors, witnesses and officials.
“Today, there was even a shortage of coffins,” said Ibrahim Khairandish, a member of the provincial council in Balkh Province, where the attack took place. Other officials feared that the death toll could exceed 200.
Continue reading the main story
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The attack punctuated the dismal outlook for Afghanistan, where much of the population of 34 million has known only war.
Over the last two years, Taliban fighters have gained more territory in the countryside and now threaten several cities. Afghanistan’s forces, suffering enormous casualties and grappling with a leadership marred by indecision and corruption, have struggled to put up a defense.
More than 6,700 members of the Afghan security forces lost their lives in 2016, a record high that is nearly three times the total American casualties for the war.
In a new sign of how badly the Afghan military is faltering, the commander of the NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, has requested a few thousand additional American soldiers to assist in training Afghan recruits..
“The enemy has the strength — they have more people in their units now — and the speed of action,” said Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of the Afghan intelligence service. “Unfortunately, we have slowed down our decision-making.”
He said mistrust between the soldiers and their commanders had made many more vulnerable to Taliban infiltration and recruitment.
Especially remarkable about the Friday attack was its location: The assailants struck on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif, long one of the safer cities in Afghanistan. Now it has been infected by fears of more mayhem as Taliban strength grows in surrounding provinces.
How such a small number of assailants could inflict such staggering carnage — and in such a highly secure area — only compounded the trauma and anxiety over what could come.
“In a time when, in a lot of places, we are caught in war of attrition, this will certainly have an impact on the morale and the will of the soldiers to fight,” Mr. Nabil said.
Even the most guarded places in Afghanistan are not safe. In January, explosives placed in couches inside the Kandahar governor’s office, past five layers of security, almost decimated the province’s leadership and a visiting Arab delegation. In March, militants entered the Afghan Army’s main hospital in Kabul, the capital, and killed more than 50 people in a siege that lasted nearly seven hours and was claimed by the Islamic State.
Those attacks, like the one on Friday, were made possible by insider help, security officials say.
While the Islamic State has been getting attention in recent days because of the American military’s use of its largest conventional bomb against a cave complex used by the group in eastern Afghanistan, the Taliban remain the biggest security threat to the country.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the army base attack, releasing the names and a picture of 10 men dressed in military uniforms, replete with hard helmets and kneepads, who it said had taken part.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the assailants had been led by four soldiers in the base, home to the 209th Army Corps, who had long been working as militant infiltrators.
Details were still emerging on Saturday, but several officials said the death toll was frighteningly high. Mr. Khairandish of the Balkh provincial council said 140 were killed. One Balkh official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, said it was likely that around 200 soldiers had been killed. A Western military official in Kabul, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a policy against commenting on Afghan security forces’ casualty figures, put the death toll at more than 100.
Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said on Saturday that “more than a hundred soldiers were killed and wounded” in the attack, but he declined to discuss precise numbers.
President Ashraf Ghani toured the army base during a visit to Balkh on Saturday and declared a national day of mourning.
Atta Muhammad Noor, the provincial governor, said the president had ordered an investigation to find the insiders who abetted the massacre.
“I assure our countrymen that we will avenge the blood of their children,” Mr. Noor said.
The 209th Army Corps base is one of the largest in the country, responsible for security in nine of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
Zabihullah Mohammedi, a soldier from eastern Nangarhar Province who has served in the 209th Corps for four years, said 3,000 to 4,000 people had attended the communal Friday Prayer at the base’s mosque. As they exited, they heard gunshots from the direction of the security checkpoints.
“We were trying to figure out what it was when we saw a Ranger vehicle coming at a very fast speed from the direction of the checkpoint,” he said in an interview. “There were four people in this Ranger — two in the front, two in the back. They started firing.”
Mr. Mohammedi said two of the attackers blew themselves up among the crowd, who were in civilian clothes and unarmed, while the other assailants went on a shooting spree. He sustained a shrapnel wound in the stomach and a bullet wound in the arm.
It took commando forces who arrived at the scene about five hours to kill the remaining assailants and end the siege.
“If there is a gathering of birds, and you shoot with a scattergun, how many will fall?” Mr. Mohammedi said. “The two explosions alone, God forgive me if I am wrong, probably killed 80 people.”
As Mr. Ghani met with his security officials at the army base, dozens of relatives of soldiers waited outside to receive news, or the coffins.
Among the dead was Qari Ahmad Khan, 22, who joined the army after completing his studies at an Islamic school, where he had specialized in memorizing the Quran, said his brother, Mohamed Khan, 43. Mr. Khan said he had waited for hours near the base before army officials released his brother’s body.
“The army corps was not allowing anyone in — not even 100 meters close to the base,” Mr. Khan said. “Tens of people were waiting there, crying and wailing. Some were searching for the bodies of their martyrs. Others didn’t know whether the person they were waiting for was dead or wounded.”
Mujib Mashal reported from Kabul, and Najim Rahim from Kunduz, Afghanistan. Jawad Sukhanyar and Zahra Nader contributed reporting from Kabul.
بلخ کې د وژل شویو سرتېرو شمېر ۱۴۰ ته رسېدلی
په داسې حال کې چې بلخ ولایت کې د ۲۰۹ شاهین قول اردو پر قومندانۍ له برید وروسته د یکشنبې په ورځ ملي ویر اعلان شوی، افغان چارواکي وايي، په برید کې د وژل شویو سرتېرو شمېر ۱۴۰ ته رسېدلی دی.
په بلخ کې یوه سیمه ییز چارواکي ويلي، د وژل شویو د مړو لېږدولو لپاره د تابوتونو له کمښت سره مخامخ دي.
د بلخ تر خونړي برید وروسته د تابوتونو کمی
کرزی: طالبانو ته نور ورور نه وایم؛ د افغانانو وژونکي ترهګر دي
"درېیو اوونیو کې به د افغانستان په اړه د ټرمپ تګلاره بشپړه شي"
د برید پړه وسله والو طالبانو منلې او وايي دا برید یې په وروستیو کې د ځینو طالب مشرانو د وژل کېدو په غچ اخیستو کې ترسره کړی.
د بریتانیا د بهرنیو چارو وزیر بوریس جانسن د افغانستان مزار شریف کې پر افغان ځواکونو د جمعې ورځې د لمانځه پرمهال برید وحشتناک برید په کلکو ټکو غندلی دی.
نوموړي پر خپل ټویټر پاڼې لیکلي "د جمعې د لمانځه پرمهال په افغان ځواکونو وحشیانه برید په بشپړه توګه غندم. له قربانیانو او د افغانستان له خلکو سره خپل غمشریکي ښیم".
په کابل کې د امریکا سفارت هم دا برید غندلی. له سفارته په خپره شوې ویناپاڼه کې ویل شوي، د امریکا سفارت وايي، دغه برید د امریکا هغه هوډ پیاوړی کوي چې د خپلو افغان ملګرو ترڅنګ ټینګ ودرېږي.
پر شاهين قول اردو د بريد له امله ملي ماتم اعلان شوی
پر قول اردو برید د ولسمشر پښې بلخ ته وڅکولې
په افغانستان کې د بهرنیو او امریکايي ځواکونو قومندان جنرال جان نیکولسن په یوه خبرپانه کې ویلي، دوی د افغان ملګرو ترڅنګ ولاړ دي او شاهین قول اردو قومندانۍ کې د قربانیانو له کورنیو سره غمشریکي ښيي.
بل خوا د افغانستان د ملي امنیت شورا دفتر وايي، د ایران د ملي امنیت شورا دبیر علي شخاني له خپل افغان سیال سره په تیلېفوني خبرو کې د بلخ برید په سختو ټکو غندلی او دا یې پر شاهین قول اردو یو کرغېړن ترهګریز عمل بللی دی.
بلخ کې د ۲۰۹ شاهین قول اردو پر قومندانۍ د وسله والو طالبانو له برید وروسته په افغانستان کې د یکشنبې په ورځ (اپرېل ۲۳مه) ملي ویر اعلان شوی.
د ولسمشرۍ له خوا په خپره شوې خبرپاڼه کې راغلي، "په ټول هېواد او سياسي نمايندګيو کې به د افغانستان بيرغ نيمه ځوړند وي."
ولسمشر غني دا برید پر انساني او اسلامي ارزښتونو برید بللی.
د برید په بله ورځ ولسمشر غني مزار شریف ته ولاړ او هلته ولاړ او له ټپي پوځيانو سره یې وکتل.
د ۲۰۹ شاهين قول اردو قومنداني د بلخ ولايت په دهدادي ولسوالۍ کې ده. دغه قول اردو د افغانستان شمال او شمال ختيځو نهو ولايتونو د امنیت مسؤوليت پرغاړه لري.