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Afghan defense minister, army chief of staff resign after Taliban attack

By Ed Adamczyk
Afghan defense minister, army chief of staff resign after Taliban attack
Afghan soldiers carry coffins containing bodies at a military base in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, a day after it was targeted by Taliban militants. The attack killed at least 136 Afghan soldiers, and Monday, the resignations of Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi and army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahin were announced. Photo by Mutalib Sultani/EPA

April 24 (UPI) -- Afghanistan's defense minister and army chief of staff resigned Monday, days after a Taliban attack that left at least 136 Afghan soldiers dead, the Afghan president said.

"Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim stepped down with immediate effect," an announcement by President Asraf Ghani's office said.

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The resignations came as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Kabul for an unannounced visit, and after the Afghan legislature voted to summon Habibi for an explanation of Friday's attack.

A suicide attack in northern Balkh province on the base of the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan army was launched by at least 10 Taliban members dressed in Afghan military uniforms. The insurgents attacked as most of the Afghan troops were at noon prayers on Friday, opening the base to enter shooting. The majority of the Afghan soldiers were young recruits who struggled to determine fellow soldiers from enemies, witnesses told the BBC.

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