The Taliban has rammed a car bomb into a military base in Afghanistan, killing more than 100 people including eight special commandos.
The vehicle – an American-made armoured Humvee captured from Afghan forces – was rammed through a checkpoint at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) training centre in Maidan Shahr.
After the device had been detonated, two gunman entered the campus and opened fire on Afghan soldiers before being shot dead themselves.
“The explosion was very powerful. The whole building has collapsed,” said Sharif Hotak, a member of the provincial council in Maidan Wardak province.
He also claimed the government was “hiding accurate casualty figures to prevent a further dip in morale of the Afghan forces”.
Two senior interior ministry officials said precise casualty figures were not being released to prevent unrest within the armed forces.
But an official at the defence ministry in Kabul told Reuters that 126 people were killed, including the eight special commandos.
The Taliban said the number of dead was much higher – a spokesman claiming that 190 people had been killed.
The militant group wants Islamic government and sharia law in Afghanistan, and foreign forces to leave.
Hours after the attack on the military base, the Taliban met US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar.
“Talks between Taliban leaders and US officials have started,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
Attempts to bring the 17-year war in Afghanistan to an end have been derailed recently after the Taliban said it wanted to keep the Afghan government out of discussions, something the US opposes.