A national day of mourning in Afghanistan following Friday’s attack on the army base near Mazar-e Sharif has come and gone, but with the death toll continuing to rise after the attack, the government’s biggest problem is mounting calls for security officials to resign after yet another high-profile failure.
Locals and the families of victims, noting that Mazar-e Sharif was one of the safest places in Afghanistan, saying that even in such a supposedly secure area the government failed to prevent a huge attack, saying that the best way to honor the victims would be to fire the leaders who failed to prevent such attacks.
Some 10 Taliban fighters infiltrated the base on Friday, wearing Afghan military uniforms and driving a pair of vehicles. They got through the first checkpoint untested, and bombed the second checkpoint, with gunmen scattering around the base.
Some of the gunmen hit the base mosque, where thousands of troops were just finishing up with Friday prayers, while one gunman managed to get to the dining hall, where they were just beginning to serve lunch. Between the two, death tolls are now at least 163 killed, with hundreds more wounded.
This all amounts to the single largest Taliban attack on an Afghan military target of the entire 16-year US war. The Taliban has indicated that four infiltrators on the base helped the 10 attackers who arrived to find their way around, though as yet they haven’t been identified.
Though Afghan officials have played up the idea of catching the four infiltrators who helped with the attack, this looks to be a major difficulty, as the Taliban has countless infiltrators across the Afghan security forces, and finding the specific four that were involved in this case is no small task.