US defence chief in Afghanistan following Taliban army massacre

US defence chief in Afghanistan following Taliban army massacre
2 min read
24 April, 2017
Afghanistan witnessed another massacre of security forces this week, which saw US defence minister Jim Mattis make a surprise visit to the war-torn country.
Mattis is in Kabul following a tour of the Middle East [AFP]
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis made a surprise visit to Kabul on Monday, as Afghanistan reels from a Taliban massacre of troops that sent shockwaves through the country.

Mattis' first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief will see him meet ministers and President Ashraf Ghani during the unannounced stopover in Kabul.

It comes less than two weeks after the US dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on Islamic State group hideouts in the country's east, which the US says killed 100 militants but which analysts say had little effect.

Meanwhile, the country is in mourning after a Taliban assault on an army base in northern Afghanistan left at least a hundred casualties.

The massacre led to the resignations of Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi and army chief Qadam Shah Shaheem.

The attack was led by ten Taliban militants dressed in soldiers' uniforms and armed with suicide vests who opened fire on unarmed troops at close range in a mosque and dining hall.

The breakdown in security has led to calls for increased NATO intervention in Afghanistan to help stabilise the situation.

Mattis, who has previously served in Afghanistan, has said he is compiling an assessment for President Donald Trump on Afghanistan security situation.

The US has around 8,400 troops while another 5,000 other NATO troops are helping Afghan forces battle the Taliban and Islamic State group.

It appears to be an uphill battle with 6,800 soldiers and police killed last year and a third of Afghanistan in militants' hands.

Agencies contributed to this story.