A car bomb was on Monday rammed into a military base in Maidan Shahr in the centre of Afghanistan’s Maidan Wardak province. Dozens died in the attack, reportedly conducted by the Taliban.
The training centre belongs to the National Directorate for Security; it was targeted with a captured Humvee military car packed with explosives, followed by two gunmen. Some estimated death tolls, provided anonymously by officials to journalists, exceeded 100. Sharif Hotak, of the Maidan Wardak provincial council, described witnessing 35 bodies in one hospital, with some casualties both alive and dead transported to Kabul. “The explosion was very powerful. The whole building has collapsed,” he said.
Hotak also alleged the central government are “hiding accurate casualty figures to prevent a further dip in morale of the Afghan forces”, whose US-built armoured vehicle was used to breach the compound’s defences. A source within the central Interior Ministry reportedly said “I have been told not to make the death toll figures public. It is frustrating to hide the facts[.]”
The Taliban have claimed responsibility. Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid claimed 190 were dead. Efforts are ongoing to negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict within the nation, in which the Taliban, once the governing force, seeks to retake control and reimpose their version of Sharia law. Reuters reported Monday’s attack the deadliest since an assault in Ghazni in August 2018, with officials reporting at the time 150 security forces, 95 civilians, and hundreds of Taliban killed.
Abdurrahman Mangal, spokesperson for the provincial governor, said the attack had killed twelve and injured twelve more.
The Taliban met on Monday with Zalmay Khalilzad, a US peace envoy, in Qatar. Last week a Kabul car bombing killed five and wounded 110, another attack ascribed to the Taliban. The civil war has been ongoing for seventeen years; the Taliban wants foreign forces to leave and the Afghan government shut out of peace talks.