Rocket attack at Kabul airport intercepted

WASHINGTON: The operations at the Kabul airport were unaffected after rockets were fired at Kabul airport Monday but were intercepted before they could do damage. 

US President Joe Biden was briefed on the rocket attack at the Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul as per a statement from the White House. The US president was also informed that operations at the airport were not interrupted, the statement said.

“National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chief of Staff Ron Klain have briefed the President on the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport”, it added.

As many as five rockets were fired at Kabul’s international airport but were intercepted by a missile defense system, a US official told Reuters earlier.

Geo News correspondent in Kabul, Azaz Syed, visited the area where a burnt car can be seen in which rockets were fitted. He shared that one of the rocket  had hit a nearby building.  

US and allied forces are hurrying to evacuate their remaining citizens and at-risk Afghans before completing their own withdrawal by Tuesday to meet a deadline agreed between the Taliban and Washington.

The mission became more urgent and dangerous after a Daesh suicide bomb attack on Thursday killed 13 US military personnel and scores of Afghan civilians outside the airport.

The US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters initial reports did not indicate any US casualties from the latest rocket attack, but that information could change.

Afghan media reports said the rocket attack was mounted from the back of a vehicle. According to Pajhwok news agency several rockets struck different parts of the Afghan capital.

Afghan men take pictures of a vehicle from which rockets were fired, as Taliban forces stand guard, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 30, 2021. -REUTER
Afghan men take pictures of a vehicle from which rockets were fired, as Taliban forces stand guard, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 30, 2021. -REUTER

The United States and allies have evacuated about 114,400 people – including foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans – in an operation that began a day before Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15, but tens of thousands more desperate Afghans face being left behind.

“We tried every option because our lives are in danger. They (the Americans or foreign powers) must show us a way to be saved. We should leave Afghanistan or they should provide a safe place for us,” said one woman outside the airport.

Two US officials told Reuters evacuations would continue on Monday, prioritising people deemed at extreme risk. Other countries have also put in last minute requests to bring out people under that category, the officials said.

US President Joe Biden attended a ceremony on Sunday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honour members of the US military killed in Thursday’s attack.

Biden shut his eyes and tilted his head back as the flag-draped transfer caskets carrying the remains emerged from a military plane.

None of the fallen service members was over the age of 31, and five were just 20, as old as the war in Afghanistan itself.

Biden has vowed to avenge the Daesh attack.

A US drone strike on Sunday killed a suicide car bomber who Pentagon officials said was preparing to attack the airport on behalf of Daesh.

US Central Command said it was investigating reports of civilian casualties from the strike, the second by the US military against suspected Daesh militants.

“We know that there were substantial and powerful subsequent explosions resulting from the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused additional casualties,” it said.

The departure of the last troops will mark the end of the US-led military intervention in Afghanistan, which began in late 2001, after the al Qaeda Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Taliban condemn US

A Taliban spokesman said a US drone strike targeting a suspected suicide bomber in Kabul on Sunday resulted in civilian casualties, and condemned the United States for failing to inform the Taliban before ordering the strike.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told China’s state television CGTN on Monday that seven people were killed in the drone attack, describing the US action on foreign soil as unlawful.

“If there was any potential threat in Afghanistan, it should have been reported to us, not an arbitrary attack that has resulted in civilian casualties,” Mujahid said in a written response to CGTN.