Taliban fighters dressed in military uniforms attacked an army base in Afghanistan on Friday. 140 people were killed and an additional 160 were wounded, according to Mohammad Ibrahim Khair Andesg, the head of the provincial council. The death toll is still rising being that it was such a large-scale attack.
The attack occurred at an army command centre a few miles from Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh. It was reported that two of the attackers blew themselves up and seven were killed in the assault. Ghulam Hazart, a witness said “there were two checkpoints but the fighters managed to go through that, as well. It was chaotic and I saw more than 60 people dead on the spot.”
So, how did this exactly happen; how did someone manage to attack such a large military base with such strong security? The Taliban claimed that four of the attackers had previously served as soldiers at the base, and therefore possessed a great amount of knowledge of the facility. Being that the fighters were dressed in military gear (as seen in a picture released by the Taliban of the purported attackers dressed in military gear with their faces blurred), they managed to get through two military checkpoints. Then, fighters in three military vehicles with forged documents launched the attack by shooting a rocket at the entrance of the base.
A source said 10 fighters first targeted the mosque, where hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed soldiers performed Friday prayers. An Afghan national who serves in the army explained that the mosque is often very busy during Friday prayers, hundreds of people from outside the area would come in. After attacking the mosque, those 10 fighters went on to attack the dining facility. The attack lasted six hours. By the end, at least five attackers were killed and one was arrested. Several military helicopters hovered over the facility during the attack and ambulances later took away the bodies of the victims.
“Three months ago, I sent my son to the army, I have not seen him since then. And today, they give me his remains,” says a father. To give you a general idea of the atrocities of the attack, a member of the provincial council in Balkh Province, Ibrahim Khairandish, reported that there “was even a shortage of coffins.”
It was a tragic event. Nonetheless, this attack must be addressed and resolved in a peaceful manner. A fatal attack in response to a fatal attack only causes unnecessary additional damage, along with more mourning hearts of family members.
Some argue the Afghan military is in need of stronger forces to help better their military. The commander of the NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, has even requested a few thousand additional American soldiers to assist in training Afghan recruits. Yet I still stress that a peaceful method should be attacked.
Peace will not be achieved in one night, or one year, in fact, it may not even happen in one lifetime, but like Barack Obama once said, “we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on earth.”
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