On Friday, at least 140 Afghan soldiers were killed in a brutal massacre on an Afghan military base when Taliban militants disguised in military uniforms carried out the deadliest terror attack that the Middle Eastern nation has seen in 16 years. In the wake of the attack at the 209 Shaheen Army Corps’ base, Afghanistan’s defense minister and chief of army staff resigned on Monday.
Defense Minister General Abdullah Habibi and chief of army staff General Qadam Sha Shahim stepped down from their positions with “immediate effect” for what Habibi said was in the “national interest” of Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan is facing a complicated war and no one has succeeded to defeat terrorism yet,” Habibi said, as quoted by Bloomberg Politics.
Friday’s attack was executed by ten Taliban militants who were dressed as soldiers carrying wounded comrades. While some ran around the base gunning down unsuspecting victims, others detonated explosives against troops who were unarmed as they were leaving Friday prayer services. According to the New York Times, the slaughter went on for five hours.
“The attack was apparently against a mosque and a dining facility where there were Afghan government forces and probably Afghan civilians who work at the base,” Air Force Col. John J. Thomas told the Pentagon press corps following the attack. “What we know is that the Afghan national forces have responded, and they know that they have killed several enemy [fighters] in response to the attack.”
The New York Times reported that Ibrahim Khairandish, a member of the provincial council in Blakh Province where the attack occurred, said “there was even a shortage of coffins.”
The resignations came on the same day the U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived to Kabul during an unannounced visit.
“The killing of Afghan citizen soldiers, protectors of the people just as they were coming out of a mosque, coming out of a house of worship. It certainly characterizes this fight for exactly what it is: these people have no religious foundation,” Secretary Mattis said while speaking in Kabul.
“As you know, President Trump has directed a review of our policy in Afghanistan as the new administration takes hold in Washington. This dictates an ongoing dialogue with Afghanistan’s leadership, and that’s why I came here,” Mattis continued.