Taliban insurgents launched a major suicide bomb-and-gun attack against a military base in central Afghanistan, killing at least 18 security troops and injuring dozens more.
Authorities said the assault took place early Monday morning in Maidan Shahr, the provincial headquarters of Wardak province, about 50 kilometers from Kabul.
The key security installation was said to be manned by Afghan special forces assigned to the country’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
The Taliban raid began with a suicide bomber detonating an explosives-packed U.S.-made Humvee military vehicle before several of his partners tried to storm the base, the provincial police chief told VOA. Wais Samimi said Afghan forces swiftly engaged and killed the assailants, he added, but declined to give further details.
Provincial health officials confirmed to VOA that ambulances transported at least 40 victims to local hospitals, including 12 dead. Eyewitnesses and area residents reported a much higher death toll.
The Taliban took responsibility for staging the deadly raid. The group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed multiple Taliban insurgents participated in the attack and “completely destroyed” the base, killing more than 90 Afghan forces and wounding scores of others. Though insurgents’ claims for such attacks are often inflated.
On Sunday, a suicide car bomber rammed a high-profile government convoy in eastern Logar province, killing at least 10 Afghan security forces. The provincial governor and top security officials traveling in the convoy were apparently the target of the attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
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The Taliban continues to stage spectacular battlefield attacks in Afghanistan despite harsh winter weather.
The increased violence comes as the United States has intensified efforts to find a politically negotiated settlement to the 17-year-old war between the Afghan government and the Taliban. (VOA)