Mourning declared after scores of troops die in Afghan base attack

News Hour:

President Ashraf Ghani 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 defense ministry has said more than 100 died or were injured in the Friday attack in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, but no exact numbers have been released.

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

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 on Saturday, Ghani ordered that flags be flown at half mast on Sunday in memory of the troops who died.

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.

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