In a statement issued by the Presidential Palace, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani announced the resignations of Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Qadam Shah Shahim have been accepted.

Both of them have stepped down with immediate effect, the statement added.

The 209-Shaheen Corps, which came under the Taliban’s attack, is one of the seven corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) that has responsibility to ensure security in north and north-eastern provinces of the country.

The attack in the capital Mazar-e-Sharif of the northern Balkh province is seen as the Taliban’s biggest military assault in terms of casualties, and worst setback for the nascent ANA.

The death toll is feared to rise, but so far officials have confirmed the death of 140 soldiers, while around 100 more are wounded. Up to 10 Taliban fighters dressed as soldiers assisted by at least one infiltrator inside the Corps caused this havoc during the Friday prayers.

Civil society and politicians are increasingly criticizing the government and the security leadership for their failure in preventing the attack.

Lawmakers in the upper house of the parliament Sunday also criticized the U.S. and NATO forces for confining their anti-terrorism operations to Daesh, and allowing the Taliban to wage more deadly attacks across the country.

Since the end of the NATO-led combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, much of the international troops are limited to the Advice, Assist and Train Mission while the U.S. forces execute anti-terrorism operations mainly against Daesh and al-Qaeda groups.

The country observed a day of mourning over the attack on Sunday.

Anadolu Agency