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Daesh claims rocket attack on Kabul airport

Agencies/Kabul
Filed on August 30, 2021
A US Air Force aircraft takes off from the airport in Kabul. — AFP

Six rockets fell as US troops were racing to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan


The Daesh-Khorasan group claimed a rocket attack on 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.

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

The rockets did not halt the steady stream of US military C-17 cargo jets taking off and landing at the airport.

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.

The Daesh-Khorasan group, rivals of the Taliban, pose the biggest threat to the withdrawal, after carrying out a suicide bombing outside the airport late last week that claimed more than 100 lives, including those of 13 US troops.

The United States meanwhile said it had carried out an air strike on Sunday night in Kabul on a Daesh-prepared car bomb.

The Taliban tightened their security cordon around the airfield after the attack, clearing away massive crowds of Afghans who were desperate to flee the country in the waning days of the US-led airlift. Taliban fighters are now stationed along a fence near the main runway.

In the capital’s Chahr-e-Shaheed neighbourhood, a crowd quickly gathered around the remains of a four-door sedan used by the attackers. The car had what appeared to be six homemade rocket tubes mounted in place of back seats. Daesh and other militant groups routinely mount such tubes into vehicles in order to move them undetected.

“I was inside the house with my children and other family members, suddenly there were some blasts,” said Jaiuddin Khan, who lives nearby. “We jumped into the house compound and lay on the ground.”

Some of the rockets landed across town in the Salim Karwan neighbourhood, striking residential apartment blocks, witnesses said. That neighbourhood is some 3 kilometres from the airport. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Five rockets targeted the airport, said Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command. A defensive weapon known by the acronym C-RAM — a Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System — targeted the rockets in a whirling hail of ammunition, Urban said. The system has a distinct, drill-like sound that echoed through the city at the time of the attack.

The Daesh statement, carried by the group’s Amaq media outlet, claimed the militants fired six rockets.

The White House said officials briefed President Joe Biden on “the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” apparently referring to the vehicle-based rocket launch.

After the rocket fire, planes continued to land and taxi across to the northern military side of the airport. Planes took off roughly every 20 minutes at one point Monday morning. One C-17 landing in the afternoon shot off flares as it approached — a manoeuvre to protect against heat-seeking missiles and a sign that the US military remains concerned about surface-to-air missiles loose in the country.





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