Afghan Defence Minister, army chief resign

Afghan Defence Minister, army chief resign

Afghan Defence Minister, army chief resign

On Friday, as many as a dozen Taliban militants stormed the largest army base in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 140 soldiers, many of them unarmed.

The attack was led by ten Taliban militants dressed in soldiers' uniforms and armed with suicide vests who opened fire on unarmed troops at close range in a mosque and dining hall.

Forty-eight hours after the attack, the president's office and the defence ministry put the number of dead and injured at "more than 100".

Two top American military leaders are advising the Trump administration to send a few thousand more troops.

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit on Monday where he slammed Taliban militants and called them "barbaric enemy".

USA military estimates suggest that there there are about 600 to 800 Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar, where the bomb was dropped, but also in the neighbouring province of Kunar. He added that an investigation into the attack was ongoing; he also admitted that the casualties in the assault were "high".

Ghani traveled to the base in Balkh on Saturday from where he strongly condemned the attack, according to a tweet from the official Twitter account of the presidential palace. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

The resignations, along with reshuffle of corps commanders, followed fury over Friday's Taliban assault on the army base in Mazar-e-Sharif.

"People went to offer Friday prayer, but enemies of the country killed majority", Atiqullah said.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived for a surprise visit to Afghanistan Monday as the Trump administration considers boosting us military support for the struggling country.

The Taliban have stepped up their attacks against both Afghan forces and civilians since foreign combat troops pulled out of the country at the end of 2014, leaving only an advisory and training contingent of global forces.

The exact toll in the attack has yet to be known.

According to United States watchdog SIGAR, casualties among Afghan security forces soared by 35% in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed. More than a third of Afghanistan is outside government control and many regions are fiercely contested by various insurgent groups, as Kabul's repeated bids to launch peace negotiations with the Taliban have failed.

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