Afghan Defence Minister & Army Chief Resign Over Army Base Attack

The resignations come following a deadly attack on an army base by Taliban that killed more than 140.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accepted the resignation of the defence minister and army chief of staff on Monday after more than 140 government soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on an army base last week, the President's office said.

"Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim stepped down with immediate effect," the presidential palace announced in a post on its Twitter account.

The resignations threaten to overshadow a visit by US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis as Washington looks to craft a new strategy for the country. Mattis was expected to meet Afghan officials and US commanders who are pushing for more troops. But his arrival in Kabul came amid the fall-out from Friday's Taliban assault on the base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi, acting spokesman for Ghani, told Reuters that the resignations were because of Friday's attack.

At least 140 soldiers were killed and many wounded, an official in the city said on Saturday. Other officials said the toll was likely to be even higher. Local media cited officials as saying that the deaths surpassed 150 and over 80 were injured.

The Afghan government had declared Sunday a national day of mourning to pay tribute to those who died in the attack.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Ministry of External Affairs had strongly condemned the attack on Saturday.

(With inputs from Reuters.)