The toll in the Taliban strike near an Afghan military base on Friday has risen to 140, officials said, adding that they fear the figure was likely to rise, Reuters reported on Saturday. At least 10 insurgents, dressed in military attire, had targeted soldiers who had gone to a mosque for Friday prayers in Mazar-e-Sharif. The government has yet to confirm the number of casualties.
Two suicide bombers had blown themselves up, and seven others were killed after hours of fighting. One of the attackers has been detained, Defence Ministry spokesperson Dawlat Waziri told AFP. But other reports claimed that five militants had been arrested. There were no civilian casualties in the incident.
The Army base is located near Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province in northern Afghanistan. Spokesperson for the 209th Corps Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Qahar Aram said the attack took place around 1.30 pm (local time). Most of the soldiers were caught unawares as they were unarmed and finishing their Friday prayers at the time.
The assailants, who arrived in two military vehicles, told guards at the gates that they needed to enter urgently as they were carrying wounded soldiers, Army spokesperson Nasratullah Jamshidi told Reuters.
This strike comes nearly a month after Islamic State group militants killed around 50 people in an attack in Kabul’s Sardar Daud Khan hospital, which is the country’s largest military hospital. The militants then had been disguised as doctors.