A Taliban bomb-making class has gone disastrously wrong, resulting in a massive explosion that has killed at least 30 of the fundamentalist group’s fighters.
The casualty list reportedly includes six foreign nationals who were regarded as “expert” IED – improvised explosive device – makers.
An Afghan National Army press release revealed that the blast was so intense that exact identities of the foreign fighters couldn’t be determined.
The explosion happened at a mosque in the village of Qultaq in the Dowlatabad district of Balkh province on Saturday, February 13, according to the statement from the 209th Shaheen Corps.
The group had gathered for specialist instruction on making IEDs, roadside bombs designed to be used against the 9,600 NATO troops – including 2,500 Americans – training and assisting Afghan government forces.
The group has pledged to renew its terror campaign against the US.
NATO chiefs are currently discussing a full withdrawal from the country, and a final decision is set to be made this week.
A statement from the Taliban urged NATO to pull out, warning “our message to the upcoming NATO ministerial meeting is that the continuation of occupation and war is neither in your interest nor in the interest of your and our people.”
“Anyone seeking extension of wars and occupation will be held liable for it just like the previous two decades,” they added.
On January 28, Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said that the Taliban had not met their commitments of renouncing terrorism and ending violent attacks on security forces and the Afghan people.
He added that the U.S. remains committed to a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan but says that as long as the Taliban shows a willingness to deliver on their own commitments then it’s going to be harder to make a decision on the troop withdrawals scheduled for May 2021.
In a separate incident two children were killed by a Taliban IED in the village of Qotar Blaq in Kunduz province, according to a report from the Afghan security services.