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Afghan chiefs resign after Taliban's deadliest base attack

Coffins of victims were carried after a bomb and gun attack that claimed more than 100 lives. Credit: AP

Afghanistan's army chief and defence minister have resigned days after the deadliest ever Taliban attack on a military base.

At least 130 soldiers and military staff were believed to have been killed and 80 wounded when gunmen and suicide bombers dressed in army uniforms stormed a base near Mazar-e Sharif on Friday.

A statement from President Ashraf Ghani's office said he had accepted the resignations of Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim.

The departures came as Pentagon chief Jim Mattis arrived unannounced in Kabul to access the continuing need for US troops in the lengthy war.

The Trump administration is thought to be considering sending in more troops to help the Afghans fight the insurgency.

Fallon: Tory tax pledge will be 'made clear' within days

Sir Michael Fallon said the Conservative position on the tax pledge will be clear later this week. Credit: ITV/Good Morning Britain

The Defence Secretary has refused to confirm whether the Conservatives will renew a pledge not to raise taxes, but said the 2017 manifesto will "make clear which side of this argument" the "low tax party" is on.

Doubts over the Tory election promise emerged after Chancellor Philip Hammond hinted he would like to ditch the 2015 manifesto pledge not to increase income tax, VAT or national insurance.

Prime Minister Theresa May would not confirm the stance during campaigning at the weekend but Mr Fallon said the party's position will be clear later this week.

"Just a few more days and you'll see it in our manifesto in black and white," he told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said he wanted more 'flexibility' to respond to the economy. Credit: PA

"The manifesto will certainly make clear which side of this argument we're on. It's Labour governments that increase tax - it's Conservatives that take the lower paid in particular out of tax."

Sir Michael said a review of the rights of self-employed workers would continue if the Tories win the general election, and echoed the Chancellor's call for flexibility.

"I think what (Mr Hammond) said is he doesn't want too many targets inside the manifesto that are too prescriptive, that don't allow you, as the situation develops over the lifetime of the Parliament, that don't allow you the flexibility."


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