Taliban attackers killed more than 100 Afghan security personnel when they detonated a car bomb in a training base and then stormed inside.
The deadly attack on an intelligence training centre came amid American fears that the beleaguered Afghan forces are suffering unsustainable casualties against the Taliban.
A captured, American-made armoured vehicle loaded with explosives was rammed through a checkpoint at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) training base in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Maidan Wardak province.
A senior defence official told Reuters that after the vehicle detonated in the campus, two gunmen had entered and shot dead many Afghans in the wake of the huge explosion.
“We have information that 126 people have been killed in the explosion inside the military training centre, eight special commandoes are among the dead,” said the official.
Another official put the NDS death toll at more than 100.
Last month, the Pentagon’s pick for the next commander of U.S. Central Command said the Afghan’s high casualty rate was unsustainable.
Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie said: “Their losses have been very high. They are fighting hard, but their losses are not going to be sustainable unless we correct this problem.”
Ashraf Ghani, last year said Afghanistan had lost 28,000 soldiers and police killed since 2015.
Sharif Hotak, a member of the Wardak provincial council in Maidan Wardak, said he saw bodies of 35 Afghan personnel in the hospital after the attack.
“Many more were killed. Several bodies were transported to Kabul city and many injured were transferred to hospitals in Kabul,” said Hotak, adding that “the government was hiding the
accurate casualty figures to prevent a further dip in morale of the Afghan forces.”
Two senior officials in the interior ministry said the exact casualty figures was not being disclosed to prevent unrest within the armed forces.
Lindsey Graham, the senior US Republican senator, said during a visit to Islamabad earlier this week that the Afghan forces still needed American help.
“ Those who want the Afghans to fight and be in the front of the fight, they are,” he said.
“ To those who believe they should do more and America should do less, that’s coming true. One thing I can tell President Trump and the American people is that we are still needed. It is in our interests to see this through.”