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Officials Say More Than 100 Casualties In Afghan Base Attack


Afghan security personnel keep watch near the site of an attack on an army compound in Balkh Province on April 21.

Officials in Afghanistan say more than 100 army personnel were killed or injured in a Taliban attack on a military compound near Mazar-e Sharif on April 21.

Defense Ministry spokesman Daulat Waziri said on April 22 that the victims were almost all members of the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army.

He added that 10 militants dressed in Afghan Army uniforms carried out that attack -- two conducting suicide attacks, while the other eight were shot dead during the gunbattle.

Mohammad Ibrahim Khair Andesh, head of the Balkh Provincial Council, told the dpa news agency that at least 140 soldiers were killed and another 160 injured in the incident, but those numbers were not confirmed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that more than 500 soldiers had been killed or wounded. The Taliban statement also said four of the attackers were soldiers who had been stationed at the outpost.

U.S. General John Nicholson, commander of NATO's Resolute Support operation, said in a statement that the attack targeted "soldiers at prayer in a mosque and others in a dining facility" of the 209th Corps of the Afghan Army.

Nicholson praised "the Afghan commandos who brought today's atrocity to an end."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered condolences to Afghanistan, saying she was horrified by "the Taliban's deceitful, brutal barracks attack on your soldiers."

"My sympathy to the many injured and the relatives of the many victims," she wrote in a telegram to President Ashraf Ghani.

A German Army contingent is stationed at the base, which serves as the Afghan Army command center in the north of the country.

The attackers, dressed in Afghan uniforms, entered the base in two military vehicles after telling guards at the gates that they were carrying wounded soldiers and urgently needed to get in, Afghan Army spokesman Nasratullah Jamshidi said.

Balkh is among the relatively secure provinces in Afghanistan.

This is the second such attack on a secure facility in recent months. The first, by Islamic State militants, took place on a military hospital in Kabul, killing 49 people and wounding 76 others early last month.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa