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.
Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi & Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim stepped down with immediate effect.— ارگ (@ARG_AFG) April 24, 2017
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.
Strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Mazar-i-sharif. Our prayers and condolences to the familes who lost loved ones.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 22, 2017
India strongly condemns yesterday's terrorist attack in Mazar-e-Sharif; stands w Afghanistan to fight all forms of terrorism pic.twitter.com/4kT2FvjNHi— Gopal Baglay (@MEAIndia) April 22, 2017
(With inputs from Reuters.)