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More than 100 Afghan security forces killed in Taliban attack

21 January 2019, 8:40:00

More than 100 members of Afghan security forces were killed when armed Taliban fighters attacked a military base and police training centre outside of Kabul on Monday, a senior defence ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

"We have information that 126 people have been killed in the explosion inside the military training centre," the official said of the attack in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak province.

Maidan Shahr is about 44kms southwest of Kabul, along the Ghazni-Kabul highway.

A provincial official also told Reuters that the death toll was over 100.

A government spokesman declined to comment. Earlier the government said 12 people had been killed.

Some of the wounded are in provincial hospitals while the more serious cases are being treated in Kabul, said Salem Asgherkhail, head of the area's public health department.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the coordinated assault, with a car bomb that detonated at the gate of the base in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Wardak province, according to Nasrat Rahimi, the deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

Armed Taliban fighters then moved in, a tactic the group has used in many previous attacks.

The attack comes a day after a Taliban assault in neighbouring Logar province killed eight security forces.

The Taliban has been on the offensive in recent months, attacking targets around the country in an apparent effort to expand their influence and perhaps gain more leverage in any future peace talks. 

According to data from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Taliban controls or contests nearly half of Afghanistan.

Since July, the US has tried to restart a peace process with the Taliban. US officials have met Taliban representatives in a number of countries. The Taliban has refused to meet Afghan government officials, calling them "puppets".

US Senator Lindsey Graham in Pakistan on Sunday said President Donald Trump should meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as soon as possible to reset long-difficult US relations with Pakistan and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

US relations with Pakistan have been strained by suspicions that elements in the Pakistani establishment were aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad strongly denies. However, relations have appeared to improve in recent months amid efforts to push the Taliban towards a peace deal.


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