Afghanistan declares day of mourning as army base death toll increases

Cheryl Sanders
April 24, 2017

The statement said the attack was in retaliation for the killing of the Taliban shadow governor of Kunduz province, Mullah Abdul Salam Akhund, and threatened more violence against the army and police, saying "this year's operations will be painful".

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, which according to some estimates killed over 130 people.

Kabul was the final stop on Mattis' six-nation, weeklong tour.

A senior US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that intelligence showed that Russian Federation was providing monetary and weapons support to the Taliban, specifically weapons such as machine guns.

Afghan and USA officials say Mattis will be discussing the plan with Afghan leaders while in Kabul.

Mattis said he and Ghani had a "focused discussion as we work to align our efforts", adding that he is in the country for "ongoing dialogue with Afghanistan's leadership" as he prepares to assess and advise President Trump on Afghanistan policy going forward.

There are 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and 6,000 troops from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and allied counties.

The defense ministry had said Friday night that eight soldiers were killed and 11 others were wounded in its initial reports.

He said that his government and the people of Pakistan stand in solidarity with the government of Afghanistan and the Afghan brethren in this hour of grief. A USA military spokesman said "more than 50" Afghan soldiers were killed in the attack claimed by the Taliban, while Afghan officials put the death toll at eight with 11 wounded.

He referred to the use of the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb to target the Islamic State in Nangarhar about a fortnight ago and said the attack was meant to "send a very clear message to ISIS".

Taliban attackers in Afghan military vehicles wearing uniforms got through the external checkpoint to the base, bombing their way past a secondary checkpoint, then launched shooting attacks against the base mosque, just finishing Friday prayers, and the cafeteria, which was just starting to serve lunch.

Two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The commanders of four army corps were also replaced, according to the presidency's official Twitter account.

At least ten militants were reported to have been killed in the fighting and one attacker detained.

The Taliban action comes more than a week after the U.S. military dropped America's most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan, killing 94 ISIS fighters.

Mattis has declined to disclose details of damage done by that bombing, which former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called an "atrocity".

Other reports by iNewsToday