ISLAMABAD: With the death toll from a terrorist attack carried out the previous day on a military base near the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif rising to 140, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the army chief condemned on Saturday the horrific assault that lasted several hours.
In a statement, he said: “We strongly condemn this barbaric act of terrorism. Our heart goes out to the victims of this terrorist attack. We express our heartfelt condolences with the bereaved families and pray for speedy recovery of the injured.
“Terrorism is a common enemy and a threat to peace in the region,” he said.
In his statement, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed solidarity with the Afghan security forces and the “resilient Afghan nation”.
Afghan officials say 140 soldiers killed in attack on military base
“Terrorists are our common enemy and we shall defeat them,” the Inter-Services Public Relations quoted Gen Bajwa as saying.
He also expressed grief over the loss of dozens of lives.
In a statement, the Foreign Office reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to working closely with the Afghan government as well as the international community in the fight against the scourge of terrorism.
The statement reiterated strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.
It also extended heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the government and the people of Afghanistan, particularly the bereaved families.
An official in Mazar-i-Sharif said at least 140 soldiers were killed and many others wounded. Other officials said the toll was likely to be even higher.
If that figure is confirmed it would be the deadliest attack ever on an Afghan military base.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the government has yet to release exact casualty figures.
The defence ministry said more than 100 soldiers were killed or wounded.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited the base on Saturday, and in a statement condemned the attack as “cowardly” and the work of “infidels”.
As many as 10 Taliban fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, made their way into the base and opened fire on mostly unarmed soldiers eating or leaving a mosque after Friday prayers, according to officials.
The assailants used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, and several detonated suicide vests packed with explosive, officials said.
Witnesses described a scene of confusion as soldiers were uncertain who the attackers were. “It was a chaotic scene and I didn’t know what to do,” said one army officer wounded in the attack. “There was gunfire and explosions everywhere.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid described the attack as retribution for recent killing of several senior Taliban leaders in northern Afghanistan.
He said the attack on the base killed as many as 500 soldiers, including senior commanders. Four of the attackers were Taliban sympathisers who had infiltrated the army and served for some time, he added.
Courtesy : Dawn News