Taliban kills more than 140 Afghan soldiers in suicide assault

Yesterday, when the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that his fighters killed more than 100 soldiers in a complex suicide assault at the Afghan National Army’s 209th Shaheen Corps Headquarters near the provincial capital of Mazar-i-Sharif, his claim was dismissed as routine inflation of battlefield casualties.

Today, Zabihullah’s boast has become reality, possibly making it the most deadly Taliban attack on a military installation in nearly five years.

Afghan officials are reporting that more than 140 Afghan soldiers are believed to have been killed, and that number may rise. From Reuters:

One official in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the attack occurred, said on Saturday at least 140 soldiers were killed and many others wounded. Other officials said the toll was likely to be even higher.

They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the government has yet to release exact casualty figures.

The defense ministry said more than 100 soldiers were killed or wounded.

The suicide assault was carried out by 10 Taliban fighters dressed as Afghan policemen, according to Reuters. According to the Taliban, four of them were Afghan security personnel who had “infiltrated” the ranks. Mujahid also posted a photograph he claimed was the assault team (see above).

In a statement released today by Taliban spokesman Mujahid that was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, he claimed that “among these mujahideen, four of them were soldiers who infiltrated the enemy ranks, where they served as soldiers inside the Shaheen Corps headquarters for a long time, waiting for the zero hour.”

Yesterday’s raid may have been one of the most effective Taliban attacks on a military installation in Afghanistan since Sept. 2012, when a team of fighters penetrated security at Camp Bastion in Helmand province and destroyed six USMC Harriers and damaged two others, and killed two US marines, including the Harrier squadron commander.

After the Camp Bastion attack, the US military said the Taliban team “appeared to be well equipped, trained and rehearsed.” The same could likely be said the attack on the Afghan National Army’s 209 Shaheen Corps Headquarters, given the decimation.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Tundra says:

    14:1 / 16:1 kill-to-death ratio for a 10-man squad is insane. Now take into account the wounded.

  • Shrinivasrao Sohoni says:

    How long more will the US be a mother-figure for Pakistan, holding it close to like a favorite infant-child to be suckled, cherished, and protected?

  • James says:

    Do we know enough about the ANSF’s manpower in Kunduz to say how damaging this will be to their efforts in the upcoming months?

  • James says:

    I say if worse comes to worse use, ISIS against them (the Taliban), CIA. As far as good ol’ kabul king karzai is concerned, I say let ISIS have their way with him too. Let them saw each other’s heads off.

    I argue that this is what puKKKin has been most likely doing in Syria for years now; making his problem our problem (or somebody else’s problem), by dumping off as much of his jihadist population on neighboring countries (especially Syria and/or NATO countries) as he can.

    In some situations, you’ve got to fight fire with fire.

  • truth says:

    the taliban claim on their website to have killed and wounded over 500 ANDSF personnel in this attack.

  • Carol Grayson says:

    Afghan National Forces seem very lax on security. Even yesterday it was possible to see photos and personal details including phone numbers posted on social media, even touting for extra paid work on Facebook…. no wonder they are such an easy target! There have been complaints over low pay, poor food, equipment, corruption with growing defections to the Taliban. As the New York Times points out…. “more than 6,700 members of the Afghan security forces lost their lives in 2016, a record high that is nearly three times the total American casualties for the war.” Now 300 US marines have just arrived back in Helmand at a time when there is growing anger over the testing of MOAB on Afghanistan and now the deaths at Balkh. I fear there will be a lot more casualties to come…

  • jack says:

    and the moab only killed 90! very bad sad return for the buck! FUBAR!

  • Arjuna says:

    Not too long if Lisa Curtis has her way. Hopefully we’ll put Pakiland on the State Sponsor list soon.

  • Arjuna says:

    Yup. Afghan and jihadi casualties.
    Git sum!

  • Carol Grayson says:

    I note main Taliban accounts silent on Twitter but you can’t stop all flow of information… Latest statement alleges, quote,

    “This army corps carried out the majority of the regime’s operations in Balkh, Konduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces. This Corps utilized brutal tactics in their operations often destroying civilian houses, arresting hundreds of countless civilians, killing women and children and generally instilling hatred and fear in the civilians. Information also suggests that this Corps played a role in the martyrdom of Konduz’ and Baghlan’s governors (Mullah Salam Akhund and Maulawi Lal Muhammad respectively). It was for these reasons that the Islamic Emirate gave its soldiers the green light to attack this loathed Corps.”… but who will investigate that… it will no doubt be dismissed as “propaganda”! Some have no rights or “freedom of speech”…

  • Arjuna says:

    You sure are good at following and repeating enemy propaganda, “Carol Grayson.”
    You know what the Taliban do to women when they aren’t shooting them in the face, don’t you? I cannot write it here, but it’s pretty gruesome. They are fond of goats too.
    That stuff you quote is written by Pakistanis. Go khor Taliban no speekee Eenglish.

  • Arjuna says:

    240 final KIA


    approaching 9/11 level (ISI you understand terror tactics well. Your buddy Bin Laden would be proud.)

  • Carol Grayson says:

    What I have observed over the years is whenever Taliban make significant gains, someone comes up with a “schoolgirl poisoning” story or “rape” as in Kunduz when Taliban took over but the stories I checked out had no substance. As someone who studied media interpretations of War on Terror at university, I thought being female it would be difficult to write in this area but can’t say I have had a problem with regard to insurgents, they know what I do and quite willing to answer my questions politely and respectfully. I am though sometimes asked for advice on a health issue (as from a health background) or child care. In fact I have been able to use that to teach on polio and persuade some Commanders to change their stance given the awful mess the CIA left after using a doctor in Abbottabad when they went in to kill bin Laden. Biggest problem is with others who don’t like a female writing in this area!

  • Julius Compton says:

    Ms. Grayson,
    I suggest your Muslim friends (you, perhaps) create a world-wide Muslim peace movement. Its platform-planks could include respect for other religions and atheists; fully detailed and honest examination of their religious texts, and condemnation of any Jihad violating human rights. Until then, you cannot possibly be taken seriously for other than a dupe of Muslim extremism at best or a public relations shill at worst.
    As a woman, you will never be taken seriously by them. They will allow you to damage western efforts at fighting them, however.


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