Afghanistan's defense minister has paid tribute at a somber ceremony to 21 soldiers killed in the deadliest single incident for the Afghan army in at least a year.

The soldiers died Sunday when hundreds of heavily armed Taliban insurgents attacked a remote Army outpost in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province.

At a Monday ceremony in Kabul, an honor guard stood at attention behind the long line of coffins draped in the Afghan flag and topped with bouquets of flowers.

Gen. Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, Afghanistan's defense minister, pledged that Afghan security forces will stand up to threats.

Casualties among Afghan troops have been rising significantly since they took the lead from foreign troops in the war against the Taliban.