At least 50 killed in Taliban attack

At least 50 killed in Taliban attack
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At least 50 people were killed Friday after gunmen and suicide bombers attacked an Afghan army base outside the country’s third-largest city, Pentagon officials said.

Taliban fighters stormed Camp Shaheen outside of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.

“There is a mosque and a dining facility on the base that seem to, at this point from our reports, have been the subject of significant attack from enemy forces,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. John Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon.

Thomas said the Pentagon does not know of any coalition forces that were wounded or even involved in the fighting.

“It’s ongoing, and I don’t want to get ahead of what we know, but I think we can unfortunately say more than 50 casualties,” Thomas said. “Clearly we will and are helping Afghan forces in every way that we can, but this is really going on even as we speak.”

The New York Times reported that the attack began around 1:30 p.m. local time in a crowded area where mostly unarmed soldiers were leaving Friday prayer or eating lunch.

The militants were said to be wearing military uniforms and driving military trucks and entered the compound after detonating explosives at the main gate, according to the Times.

Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, condemned the “murderous and reprehensible actions” in a statement.

“The attack on the 209th Corps today shows the barbaric nature of the Taliban. They killed soldiers at prayer in a Mosque and others in a dining facility,” he said.

“The Afghan National Defense and Security forces and the people of Afghanistan have my personal assurance that we will continue to stand with them. We support our valuable friends and partners in the fight against terrorism.”