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100+ Killed in Taliban Attack on Military Base

Monday 21 January 2019

KABUL (EFE-EPA) — About 100 members of the Afghan security forces were killed Monday in Taliban attack on a recently-constructed military base in the central part of the country.

View of a portion of the Afghan military base in Wardak, Afghanistan, targeted by Taliban fighters on Jan. 21, 2019. A Taliban suicide bomber first detonated a vehicle bomb and then two or three armed fighters penetrated the base and killed anyone they found in the building’s rubble, ultimately slaying at least 100 security personnel before being killed themselves.
(Credit: EFE-EPA/Jawad Jalali)

Taliban attackers detonated an explosives-laden vehicle in a coordinated early morning strike on a military base belonging to the National Security Directorate (NDS), Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, officials said. “According to the information I have available, the number of dead so far has risen to almost 100”, Sardar Bakhtiar, a member of the Provincial Council in Maidan Wardak province, where the attack occurred, told EFE. According to Bakhtiar, “besides the bodies that were found early this morning, more than 60 corpses were recovered just between morning and afternoon under the ruins of the collapsed building” after the detonation of a vehicle loaded with explosives. “The number of dead could rise as more bodies are found” amid the rubble, he said.

He said the attack targeted a newly established 150-member unit of the NDS in the Sya-Sanga area, about 1.5 km south of the city of Maidan-Shahar. The unit’s complex was partially destroyed.

The head of the Maidan Wardak Public Health Department, Salim Asarkhil, had told EFE earlier in the day that the provincial hospital had received about “40 victims of the attack, of whom 12 were dead before arrival and the other 28 are wounded.” Asarkhil said that there were no civilians among the attack victims brought to the hospital and that "almost all of them belong to the security forces."

Maidan Wardak province, located south of Kabul, is an important strategic area both for the Taliban insurgents — who are particularly active in nearby provinces — and for the Afghan government given that it serves as a gateway from the capital to southern and central Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the governor of Maidan Wardak, Muhibullah Sharifzai, told EFE that four attackers involved in the strike were killed, one of them in the blast, and three others who were shot down by security forces.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, and several hours later he issued a second statement saying that “at least 90 members of the security forces died and up to 100 were wounded.” Mujahid said that after the vehicle-bomb was set off, two heavily armed fighters entered the partly destroyed building and killed anyone they found alive in a shootout lasting three hours.

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