Kabul, April 21: At least 50 people have been reportedly killed in a militant attack by insurgent outfit Taliban against the Afghan Army. The militant strike was carried out in Mazar-i-Sharif, at the headquarters of Afghan National Army’s 209th corps. The city also houses the Indian consulate.
While speaking to Reuters, a US military spokesperson confirmed the death of “more than 50 people”. Other independent sources claim death toll has peaked to 61.
According to reports, 8 Taliban militants entered into the Army headquarters, disguised in military uniform. The militants used vehicles of Afghan Army to check past three security booths. The militants launched heavy gunfire on spotting a group of armymen moving unarmed towards the mosque, as per reports. The attack was launched in the afternoon at 1:30 PM (local time), before the scheduled Friday congregational prayers.
Shortly after the militants initiated the attack against the armed forces, series of explosions were heard in the vicinity of 209th Shaheen Corps in the capital of northern Balkh province.
According to reports, two out of the eight fidayeens detonated themselves, whereas, the remaining launched indiscriminate firing against the security personnel before being neutralised.
Hours after the attack, Taliban claimed responsibility of the attack, calling it a success. “We have inflicted heavy casualties on the Afghan Army today,” he said.
“The attack on the 209th Corps today shows the barbaric nature of the Taliban. They killed soldiers at prayer in a mosque and others in a dining facility,” US commander John Nicholson said in the statement.
The National Army’s 209th Corps is charged with the protection of much of the northern Afghanistan. The area encompasses the Kunduz region, which is considered to be the hotbed of insurgent extremism.
The attack comes a month after the ISIS Khorasan faction carried out a deadly terror attack, killing at least 38 wounded soldiers in an hospital in Kabul.
The conflict in Afghanistan appears to be escalating as the region is now gripped under the terror of both ISIS Khorasan and Taliban. The efforts to strike peace with Taliban faded away following the death of Mullah Omar. Considering the disenchantment among its ranks, Taliban has once again resorted to full-blown jihad, launching a series of militant operations across the nation. In the past month, Taliban claimed to have secured the district of Sangin, after nearly a year of intense battle with the Afghan forces.