‘Aim for their heads’: Soldiers recount Taliban attack on Mazar-i-Sharif base

Paris, April 23
Survivors of a deadly Taliban assault on an Afghan military base described leaping from windows to escape gunmen shooting soldiers when they prayed, as grieving families on Saturday collected coffins draped in the Afghan flag.
Afghan officials have said more than 140 soldiers were killed or wounded in the assault on the base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, the latest and potentially deadliest in a string of attacks on military targets.
President Ashraf Ghani declared a national day of mourning. After arriving to visit the base, Ghani ordered that flags be flown at half mast on Sunday in memory of the troops who died. In a statement online, he condemned the attack as “cowardly” and the work of “infidels”.
Survivors in hospital said the gunmen were disguised as soldiers, used suicide vests and heavy machine guns, and shot unarmed soldiers at close range in the base’s mosque.
“We were having lunch when an army truck pulled over near us with four men who looked like our soldiers,” 22-year-old Zabiullah, who was wounded in the shootout, said.
“Two of them with suicide vests jumped out of the car, entered the dining room and started shooting. The other two started shooting with a heavy machine gun on top of the truck,” he said.
Mohammad Qurban, a 19-year-old trainee officer who was wounded in his hand and waist, said many victims were shot at close range.

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