Furious Afghans call for resignations after Taliban base attack
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 24, 2017,
Apr 24, 2017, 11:10
As many as 10 Taliban fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, made their way into the base and opened fire on mostly unarmed soldiers eating and leaving a mosque after Friday prayers, according to officials.
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.
The US has said that at least 50 soldiers were killed, and some local officials have put the number of dead alone as high as 130.
On Sunday MPs said Major General Mohmand Katawazai, the commander of 209 Shaheen Army Corps, Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, Habibi, Shahim, Minister of Interior Taj Mohammad Jahid and the Head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Masoom Stanekzai must all be held accountable for Friday's deadly attack on the Balkh army base.
"The Afghan National Defence and Security forces and the people of Afghanistan have my personal assurance that we will continue to stand with them". Some reports indicated that the death toll could be as high as 140.
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 almost seven hours and was claimed by the Islamic State.
The NATO-led military coalition deploys advisers to the base to train and assist Afghan forces but coalition officials said no foreign troops had been hurt.
"The biggest threat to the security and stability of this country is the Taliban insurgents, not Daesh forces", said Mirwais Yasini, an influential Afghan member of parliament from Nangarhar province, using an Arabic term for Islamic State. The attackers also infiltrated a dining hall where more soldiers were killed and wounded.
He said four soldiers in the base who had always been working for the Taliban led the attack in retaliation for killings of Taliban shadow governors in the Kunduz and Baghlan provinces.
President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi said that a thorough probe had been ordered. By the end, at least five attackers were killed and one was arrested, Afghan army spokesman Abdul Qahar Araam said.
In a new sign of how badly the Afghan military is faltering, the commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, has requested a few thousand additional American soldiers to assist in training Afghan recruits.
Atiqullah was one of soldiers praying at the northern Afghan army base.
The militants reportedly used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, and also detonated several suicide vests that were packed with explosives.
"The situation shows that we can not stop supporting, training and advising our Afghan partners", a German Operations Command spokesman said.