The Taliban slaughtered at least 160 Afghan troops Friday in what appears to be the worst defeat for the Afghan army in the entire war since 2001.
As many as 10 Taliban fighters launched an attack against an Afghan military base using two army vehicles in the Balkh province, and while initial reports placed the number dead at 50, those numbers have swelled to at least 160, The Washington Post reports.
Taliban fighters, dressed as Afghan National Army soldiers, sneaked past security by claiming to be bringing wounded soldiers for medical treatment at the base outside Mazar-i-Sharif. But once they hit the third gate, they were confronted over refusing to turn over a cache of weapons. By that time, it was too late. The Taliban blew up one of the vehicles to allow fellow fighters access to the base and killed unarmed soldiers and officers, who were leaving Friday prayers, or at the dining hall.
In total, during the attack which lasted for hours, two Taliban fighters blew themselves up, seven died in the fight and Afghan authorities managed to detain one.
The Taliban denied targeting any soldiers inside the mosque.
The reason the ruse was so successful is because, at least according to the Taliban, four of its fighters were defectors from the Afghan National Army from that very same base.
“Here we have seen unfortunately, total failure of security. Government leaders fight over power and are after sidelining one another and that affects the level of hierarchy in provincial levels,” Attiqullah Amarkhail, a retired general and military analyst, told a private TV station in an interview, according to The Washington Post.
The Islamic State also took credit for the attack alongside the Taliban.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction noted that in 2016, 6,800 Afghan soldiers and police were killed, which constitutes a 35 percent increase from the year before.
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