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April 22, 2017

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Authorities on Saturday raised the casualty toll to 100 in an attack on a military compound in northern Afghanistan a day earlier by gunmen and suicide bombers wearing army uniforms.

Gen. Daulat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense, said the attack Friday on a compound of the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army left dozens of soldiers and other personnel dead or wounded.

The defense ministry had said Friday night that eight soldiers were killed and 11 others were wounded based on initial reports. Gen. Mohammad Radmanish, deputy spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said the militants entered the base in Balkh province using two military vehicles and attacked army personnel inside the compound’s mosque.

“Two suicide bombers detonated their vests full of explosive inside the mosque of the army corps while everyone was busy with Friday prayers,” he said. Waziri said there were 10 attackers, including the two who carried out the suicide attacks. Eight others were killed in a gun battle with soldiers.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assault in an email sent to media. President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday traveled to the base and strongly condemned the attack, according to a tweet from the official Twitter account of the presidential palace.

“The attackers are infidels,” Ghani was quoted as saying in the tweet. Reports conflicted on the death toll, but a source within the army corps who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, said more than 130 were killed and around 80 others were wounded.

In March, an attack on a military hospital in the capital Kabul killed 50 people. Responsibility for that attack was claimed by the Islamic State group. According to officials, five attackers were involved, including one suicide bomber who detonated an explosives belt and four gunmen who stormed the building.

The 209th corps is located in the Dihdadi district of Balkh. It is one of seven corps of the country’s Ministry of Defense, which is responsible for providing security for Afghanistan’s northern and northeastern provinces.

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