A Taliban attack in central Afghanistan has killed scores of security personnel, with some estimates putting the death toll at more than 100, amid government silence about one of the most deadly insurgent attacks in months.
Attackers rammed a captured military Humvee packed with explosives into a training centre of the National Directorate for Security in Maidan Wardak province, west of the capital Kabul, on Monday.
At least two gunmen followed up, spraying the compound with gunfire before they were shot.
“We have information that 126 people have been killed in the explosion inside the military training centre, eight special commandos are among the dead,” said a senior official in the defence ministry in Kabul, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Local officials also said that scores of troops and NDS personnel were killed in the attack. There was no official confirmation of the toll, with officials ordered not to talk to media for fear of damaging morale.
“I have been told not to make the death toll figures public. It is frustrating to hide the facts,” a senior interior ministry official in Kabul said.
The complex attack on a highly secured base underlined the heavy pressure facing Afghan security forces as increasingly confident Taliban fighters have stepped up operations, even as diplomatic efforts to agree a peaceful settlement to the conflict have begun.
Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack, which spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said killed 190 people.
The attack, the most serious against Afghan forces in months, occurred on the same day that Taliban representatives met Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, in Qatar.