Taliban kill 'more than 100' in attack on Afghan military base

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The Taliban said the number of dead was much higher - a spokesman claiming that 190 people had been killed. "The whole building has collapsed", said Sharif Hotak, a member of the provincial council in Maidan Wardak province. Officials from the Interior Ministry in Kabul added that the total casualty figures were being temporarily withheld to prevent unrest amongst the Afghan armed forces. "We have information that 126 people have been killed in the explosion inside the military training center", the official said.

An unidentified Defense Ministry official in Kabul was quoted as saying that the base housed a training center of Afghanistan's main intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security.

Last week, Taliban fighters set off a vehicle bomb outside a highly fortified compound killing at least five people and wounding more than 110 in the capital, Kabul but casualties from Monday's attack appear to have been far higher.

In recent years the Afghan government has stopped releasing detailed casualty figures. Last year Ghani said 28,000 Afghan police officers and soldiers had been killed since 2015.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group was behind the attack - the latest in near-daily assaults by the militants who now hold sway over almost half of Afghanistan.

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Last week, Taliban fighters set off a auto bomb outside a highly fortified compound in Kabul, killing at least five people and wounding more than 110 Afghans and expats. The attack came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber targeted the convoy of Logar province's governor, killing at least seven security guards.

The Taliban have ramped up their attacks on security forces and government facilities in recent months, while Afghan and USA troops have increased operations against the militants' field commanders.

Citing a source close to the talks, the Reuters news agency said that members of the Taliban's political office in Qatar were meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan.

If the withdrawal does take place, RAND noted, "the major advances that Afghans have achieved in democracy, press freedom, human rights, women's emancipation, literacy, longevity, and living standards will be rolled back throughout the country".

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