KANDAHAR: Militants launched two separate attacks on Afghan security installations killing dozens of soldiers Thursday, the latest in a series of devastating assaults this week that have left more than 120 people dead and underscored spiralling insecurity.
At least 43 Afghan soldiers were killed and nine wounded in a Taliban-claimed assault on a military base in southern Afghanistan which saw the insurgents blast their way into the compound with at least one explosives-laden Humvee, the defence ministry said.
A security source in Kandahar put the toll at 50 dead and 20 wounded. But the real figure is likely to be higher because Afghan officials habitually understate the actual number of casualties.
The militants razed the base in the Chashmo area of Maiwand district in Kandahar province to the ground, according to the ministry.
"Unfortunately there is nothing left inside the camp. They have burned down everything they found inside," defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said.
Just two soldiers were known to have survived unscathed, with six unaccounted for, the ministry said, underscoring the shocking casualties that Afghan security forces have faced in their struggle to beat back the insurgents. Ten militants were killed, it added.
US planes carried out an airstrike during a counter-terror operation in Maiwand on Thursday, a spokesman for US Forces in Kabul said, though he did not specify whether the target was insurgents at the base.
Provincial officials said two Humvee vehicles were used in the attack which was condemned by President Ashraf Ghani. They said the assault may have been carried out with insider help.
The Taliban claimed the ambush in a message to journalists that said all 60 security personnel on the base were killed.
"We have sent a delegation to assess the situation. The base is under ANA (Afghan National Army) control," Waziri added.
Separately Thursday, militants besieged a police headquarters in the southeastern province of Ghazni, attacking it for the second time this week.
Airstrikes were called in to support embattled police in the ongoing assault, which has killed two security forces so far, Ghazni provincial police chief Mohammad Zaman told AFP. The strikes were not immediately confirmed by US Forces.
Officials said the earlier assault on the headquarters, which took place on Tuesday, left 20 people dead and 46 wounded.
Thursday´s attacks take the number of major suicide and gun assaults on security installations this week to four and increases the total death toll to more than 120, including soldiers, police and civilians.
In three out of the four assaults this week the Taliban used a Humvee vehicle as a bomb to blast their way into their targets.