Fri, 21 Apr 2017 20:24 UTC
"We're talking probably more than 50 casualties," said Colonel John Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Central Command, as quoted by Reuters.
"There is a mosque and a dining facility on the base that seemed to, at this point from our reports, be the subject of significant attack from enemy forces."
Militants wearing army uniforms stormed a military compound in Afghanistan's northern Balkh province during Friday prayers, Daulat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense, said, as reported by AP.
The militants entered the building with a military vehicle and began shooting at the soldiers as they prayed in the compound's mosque, he added.
The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has condemned the attack in a statement.
The spokesman also said that five assailants were killed on the spot, including one wearing a suicide vest, while one of the attackers was captured alive.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.
General Mohmand Katawazi, the commander of the Afghan Army's 209 Corps, said that the military managed to "eliminate" all attackers, adding that the operation is over. Shaheen camp - the area attacked - was manned by soldiers of the 209 Corps.
The death toll has reportedly risen to 66, the Afghan Pajhwok news agency said, citing its sources, and adding that 73 soldiers have been injured.
US-led forces entered Afghanistan to remove Taliban control more than 15 years ago, following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The US has more than 8,000 soldiers in the country, training local forces and conducting counterterrorism operations.
Some 6,400 NATO soldiers remain in Afghanistan, following the large-scale NATO troop reduction there in 2014. US Army General John Nicholson recently described the situation in Afghanistan as a "stalemate" as he spoke to the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
Lately, the US has concentrated on fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in eastern Afghanistan, while also supporting Afghan National Security Forces against the Taliban.
Last week, the US dropped an 11-ton "mother of all bombs" in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, killing 94 IS terrorists, according to the latest estimates. A figure of 36 was earlier reported.
Taliban fighters overran the Sangin district of Helmand province in late March. They also killed and injured at least 15 people in coordinated attacks on a police station and an intelligence service office in Kabul earlier the same month.
Comment: Update (April 22): More than 100 Afghan soldiers have been killed and injured in a Taliban attack on a military base in northern Afghanistan, the country's Defense Ministry has confirmed, as cited by AFP and local news agency Pajhwok.
The attack lasted several hours and ended with two of the attackers blowing themselves up, with seven others killed, the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier US military estimates had put the death toll at no less than 50, while anonymous officials cited by Reuters said as many as 140 soldiers may have been killed.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani went from Kabul to the city of Mazr on Saturday, the Pajhwok news network reported.
Militants used military vehicles and disguises to talk their way into the 209th Corps base in the northern Balkh province. Then they opened fire on the soldiers as they were eating dinner or leaving a mosque after Friday prayers.