At least 65 killed in Taliban attack on Afghan intel base

GHAZNI, Jan 22 (INP): At least 65 people were killed in a Taliban-claimed attack on an Afghan intelligence base, sources said Tuesday, in the latest high-casualty attack on beleaguered Afghan forces.

The new toll from Monday´s Taliban-claimed attack in central Wardak province is far higher than earlier figures of 12 dead, and comes after a day of confusion, with officials giving conflicting casualty numbers to media.

The attack, in which militants detonated a Humvee packed with explosives before gunmen arrived in a car and opened fire, targeted an intelligence training facility, officials said, meaning information remains difficult to verify.

“We took about 65 bodies out of the rubble yesterday,” said Mohammad Sardar Bakhyari, deputy head of the Wardak provincial council.

A senior security official who spoke on condition of anonymity gave an even higher toll of at least 70 killed.

On Monday provincial officials told just 12 people had been killed in the attack. Figures given by officials to other media ranged from 12 dead to more than 100 killed.

Afghan forces have suffered what experts describe as “unsustainable” casualties since NATO pulled its combat forces from the country in 2014, and Monday´s attack was set to exacerbate already shaky morale.

The Humvee blast at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) base in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Wardak province and some 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of Kabul, caused the roof of the compound to partially collapse, images from the scene show.

“Then at least three other attackers in a Toyota car who were following the Humvee entered the compound,” Wardak provincial council member Abdul Wahid Akbarzai told Tuesday.

The attackers were killed quickly, he said, but most of the casualties were caused by the roof collapse.

“It is a big loss,” council head Akhtar Mohammad Tahiri said. “The NDS forces are better trained and equipped than the Afghan police and army soldiers who have been dying in record numbers.”

He added the militants were dressed in uniforms used by Afghan special forces.

Nearby residents described hearing a “heavy explosion”.

“I saw black smoke,” Sediqullah, a Maidan Shahr resident who goes by one name, told.

The blast shattered glass inside his house, he said, adding that some of his family members had been injured.