Tensions rise as rockets fired at airport

3 months ago 16
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The Islamic State-Khorasan group has claimed a rocket attack on the airport in Afghanistan’s capital as US troops race to withdraw.

    The Islamic State-Khorasan group claimed a rocket attack Monday on the airport in Afghanistan’s capital.

    “The soldiers of the caliphate targeted Kabul’s international airport with six... rockets,” the group said in a statement.

    A Taliban official said the attack was intercepted by the airport’s missile defence systems.

    The rockets fell as US troops were racing to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan and evacuate allies.

    President Joe Biden has set a deadline of Tuesday to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan, drawing to a close his nation’s longest military conflict, which began in retaliation for the September 11 attacks.

    Local reporters heard the sound of rockets whooshing over the capital on Monday morning, as the city’s rush hour kicked off.

    A security official who worked in the administration toppled two weeks ago by the Taliban told AFP the rockets had been fired from a vehicle in north Kabul.

    The sound of the airport’s missile defence system could be heard by local residents, who also reported shrapnel falling into the street. Up to five were intercepted by US air defence systems.

    Smoke could be seen rising above buildings in the north, where the Hamid Karzai International Airport is located.

    Social media posts also showed a vehicle on fire after being apparently struck by retaliatory fire.

    The US has evacuated more than 114,000 people since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan two weeks ago.

    The Islamic State group, rivals of the Taliban, pose the biggest threat to the withdrawal after carrying out a suicide bomb attack at the airport last week that claimed more than 100 lives, including 13 US troops.

    US President Joe Biden had warned more attacks were highly likely, and the United States said it carried out an air strike Sunday night in Kabul on an explosives-laden vehicle.

    Unconfirmed reports have surfaced of civilian casualties resulting from the attack on the car, which the US believed was being used to carry out another suicide bombing. Reports suggest that 10 Afghans civilians were killed, including six children.

    “We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today,” Captain Bill Urban, a US Central Command spokesman, said in a statement.

    Mr Urban said the strike on the vehicle “disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat to the airport”.

    Mr Urban said the US military was investigating whether civilians were killed, noting there were “substantial and powerful subsequent explosions” that resulted from the destruction of the vehicle.

    “It is unclear what may have happened and we are investigating further,” he said.

    “We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life.”

    A Taliban spokesman confirmed Sunday’s incident, saying a car bomb destined for the airport had been destroyed — and that a possible second strike had hit a nearby house.

    — with AFP

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