Afghanistan: President Ghani declares national day of mourning following Taliban attack

Ghani condemned the deadly attack and called it "cowardly", and the work of "infidels."

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani Reuters

Afghanistani President Ashraf Ghani declared a national day of mourning on Sunday following the death of over a hundred soldiers in an attack by Taliban militants. On Friday, the extremists barged into an army camp and killed scores of soldiers in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The authorities said that this was one of the deadliest attacks of its kind on a military base in the country. However, the exact number of casualties has not been released.

An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that at least 140 soldiers were killed while many were gravely injured in the attack. Another official said the death toll of the soldiers was likely to be even higher.

On Saturday, the Afghan President arrived at the Mazar-i-Sharif army base and ordered the flags to be flown at half mast on Sunday in memory of the slain soldiers. Ghani also held an emergency meeting with the senior security officials and called for a "serious investigation into the attack."

In an online statement, Ghani condemned the deadly attack and called it "cowardly", and the work of "infidels."

The officials said that around 10 Taliban militants, dressed in Afghan army uniforms, entered the army base camp in military vehicles and opened fire on unarmed soldiers, who were leaving a mosque after Friday evening prayers.

The militants reportedly used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles for the attack. They also detonated several suicide vests that were packed with explosives. According to witnesses, confusion and chaos prevailed at the army camp as soldiers could not ascertain the attackers' identity in army uniforms.

"It was a chaotic scene and I didn't know what to do," said one army officer injured in the attack. "There was gunfire and explosions everywhere," the officer told Reuters.

Shortly after the attack, the Taliban claimed responsibility for it. Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of the terrorist outfit said on Saturday that the attack was retribution for the recent killing of several senior Taliban leaders in northern Afghanistan.