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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Day of mourning declared as scores of Afghan soldiers killed

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has declared a national day of mourning after scores of soldiers were killed by Taliban fighters disguised as fellow soldiers, in the deadliest attack of its kind on an Afghan military base.


The defence ministry said more than 100 died or were injured in the attack yesterday in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, but no exact numbers have been released.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least 140 soldiers were killed and many others wounded. Other officials said the toll was likely to be even higher.

The attack starkly highlighted the difficulty of the long struggle by the Afghan government and its international backers to defeat the Taliban insurgency.

After arriving in Mazar-i-Sharif to visit the base today, Mr Ghani ordered that flags be flown at half mast tomorrow in memory of the troops who died.

Mr Ghani held an emergency meeting with senior security officials and called for a "serious" investigation into the attack.

In a statement online, he condemned the attack as "cowardly" and the work of "infidels".

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.

They used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, and several detonated suicide vests packed with explosives, officials said.

Witnesses described a scene of confusion as soldiers were uncertain about the attackers' true identity.
 [rte.ie]
22/4/17

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