Taliban fighters dressed in military uniforms attacked a key army base in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing eight soldiers and wounding 11 others.
An American military official said the Taliban may have killed and wounded more than 50 Afghan troops.
The attack occurred near a mosque on the military base near Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province, during Friday prayers, officials said.
“Gunmen wearing Afghan army uniforms have launched a complex attack on an army compound in the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif,” defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told AFP news agency. “So far we have counted eight dead and 11 wounded, all military, there are no civilian casualties.”
Waziri said five attackers were killed in the battle, including one wearing a suicide vest who was shot by soldiers before he could trigger his explosives. He said one of the attackers was caught and arrested.
The base is the headquarters of the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps. It covers most of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz province, which has been the scene of heavy fighting.
Colonel John Thomas, from the US military’s Central Command, told Reuters news agency the casualty toll would likely rise significantly.
“We’re talking probably more than 50 casualties,” Thomas said, adding he was unaware of any US-led coalition forces who were directly involved.
“There is a mosque and a dining facility on the base that seemed to, at this point from our reports, be the subject of significant attack from enemy forces.”