Afghanistan’s top two defence officials have resigned after a Taliban attack killed more than 140 soldiers at an army base, as the US defence secretary, James Mattis, touched down on an unannounced visit to meet American troops and Afghan officials.
Mattis arrived 10 days after the US dropped the largest conventional bomb it has ever used on Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan, and a day after 300 additional US marines were deployed to bolster Afghan security forces in the embattled Helmand province.
Mattis was scheduled to meet the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, for probable discussions on the fallout of the strike on 13 April in Nangarhar. The Afghan government said the assault killed more than 90 Isis militants. The US has not yet commented on the result of the strike.
The attack on Friday at the largest Afghan army base in the north, possibly the deadliest inflicted by the Taliban on the country’s security forces since 2001, involved up to 12 militants. They breached the base by posing as injured soldiers, in fatigues and military vehicles, wearing leg bandages and arm drips.
After setting off explosives at one checkpoint, they went on a shooting rampage outside the base mosque and inside the mess hall where they gunned down crowds of unarmed soldiers.