The Taliban were conducting a bomb-making class for a number of their fighters in northern Afghanistan when a bomb accidentally exploded killing 30 of their own fighters including a number of foreigners.
The incident took place at 9.15 a.m. on Saturday morning in the Qultac village of the Dawlat Abad district of Balkh province, the Afghan defense ministry said. The province is located about 280 north of the capital Kabul and borders Uzbekistan.
“This incident happened as a number of Taliban… had gathered for mine-making training,” the ministry added.
The Khaama Press News Agency reported that the foreigners were “expert mine makers” according to the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan military.
“As a result of the explosion of a mine in a mosque, 30 terrorist Taliban, including six foreign nationals who were professional mine-makers, were killed,” said Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.
Aman said that there were no survivors from the explosion, calling this gaffe the deadliest of its kind.
“In the past, the enemies would have suffered like six, eight, or 10 people while either planting a bomb or making a mine, but this is the first time they suffered such heavy losses,” he said in a statement to the Arab News.
These types of accidental bomb explosions have plagued the Taliban in the past, although never to this extent. Last spring four Taliban fighters were killed in Ghazni Province when they were assembling a bomb.
In May, after the previous accident, three Taliban fighters and a homeowner were killed in an explosion while assembling a bomb in Zabul Province. And four more in August while assembling a bomb in Balkh.
However, the Taliban denied the allegation that any of their fighters were killed in the explosion. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the group, said that the explosion occurred in a room used for storing ammunition but not in a bomb-making class.
“We strongly reject the report of deaths, there was no single casualty,” Mujahid said in a telephonic interview with the Arab News.
“And in the morning time, the enemy’s planes came [to bombard] the room. A mosque nearby was also partially damaged,” he added.
The Afghan government’s assertion that six foreigners were involved plays to the fact that according to the peace deal with the United States, the Taliban are supposed to stop being a haven for terrorists, especially al-Qaeda.
The Biden administration is reviewing the peace agreement and investigating whether the Taliban are living up to the agreement’s stipulations. According to it, the U.S. is supposed to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by May 1.