The article has been updated to reflect the latest development.
The death toll following a deadly Taliban attack on a military base in northern Afghanistan's Balkh province has risen to more than 140, according to Reuters and looks likely to increase. Most of the casualties were reported to be Afghan soldiers. The gunmen were reportedly dressed in military uniforms and talked their way past checkpoints to launch a raid at the camp.
The attack took place near a mosque and a dining area of the camp, located in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province. Some of the soldiers were leaving the mosque after attending Friday prayers while some of them were eating lunch, army spokesman Nasratullah Jamshidi said. Most of the soldiers were unarmed, reports said.
The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, in which around 10 suicide bombers who were travelling in two military vehicles told guards at the checkpoint that they were carrying wounded soldiers and requested to be let inside the base urgently, Jamshidi said. The attackers were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and guns, he added.
According to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, one of the attackers blew himself up, which reportedly allowed other suicide bombers with small arms to breach the camp's defences.
Dozens of soldiers were also injured in the incident, which the Nato command in the Afghan capital Kabul termed as "murderous and reprehensible".
The fighting between the insurgents and the Afghan army was reported to have lasted for several hours and came to an end late on Friday (21 April), military officials were cited as saying by the BBC. Several Taliban militants were reported killed in the exchange of fire at the military headquarters.
The base in Mazar-e-Sharif is reported to be a major headquarters in northern Afghanistan that is often used by foreign military advisers, Reuters noted.
Several German and other foreign soldiers are reported to be stationed there, including about 70 advisers who are part of a Nato-led mission to advise and train the Afghan troops.
"To our knowledge, no Germans were affected. Nor were any other soldiers in the multinational force harmed," a spokesman for the German Operations Command said.
The camp is also home to the Afghan National Army's 209th Corps, which provides security to most of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz province — the region that has seen heavy fighting in recent times, according to Reuters.