Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Rockets fired at Kabul Airport during U.S. withdrawal

Kathy Gannon

Kabul, Afghanistan (Associated Press) – On Monday, a rocket that apparently targeted Kabul International Airport hit a nearby community on the eve of the longest war deadline for US troops to withdraw from the country after the Taliban took over. It is unclear whether anyone was injured.

The rocket did not prevent the continuous take-off and landing of US military C-17 cargo planes at Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital of Afghanistan. No organization immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Last week, the Islamic State group launched a devastating suicide bombing at the gate of one of the airports, killing at least 169 Afghans and 13 American soldiers.

Nearly 20 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan for the first time after the terrorist attack on September 11, the Taliban launched a blitzkrieg in Afghanistan and took control of the country, and the airport has repeatedly plunged into chaos. But since the suicide bombing, the Taliban have strengthened the security cordon around the airport, and their fighter jets are at the last fence separating them from the runway.

In the Chahr-e-Shaheed neighbourhood of the capital, a group of people quickly gathered around the wreckage of a four-door sedan used by the attackers, which appeared to be equipped with six homemade rocket tubes in the back seat. The Islamic State organization and other militants often install such tubes on vehicles and then quietly transport them to the vicinity of the target without being detected.

Jaudin Khan, who lives nearby, said: “My child and I were in the house with other family members, and there was an explosion.” “We jumped into the house and lay on the ground.”

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Witnesses said the rocket landed in a town near Salim Kavan in Kabul and hit residential apartment buildings. The community is approximately 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the airport. No injuries were reported immediately.

In Washington, the White House issued a statement saying that officials briefed President Joe Biden on the “Rocket Attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport” in Kabul, apparently referring to the launch of the vehicle-mounted rocket that morning.

The statement said: “The President was informed that the operations at the Hong Kong International Airport continued uninterrupted and reiterated his order, requesting the commander to redouble his efforts and give priority to taking all necessary measures to protect our ground forces,” the statement said, using the initials of Kabul Airport. abbreviation.

The US military did not respond to a request for comment. After the rocket was launched, the plane continued to land and taxied to the northern military side of the airport. On Monday morning, the plane departs approximately every 20 minutes.

For foreigners and Afghans who fled the Taliban’s takeover, the airport is one of the few ways out. However, in recent days, the coalition countries have stopped their evacuation operations. The U.S. forces have basically stayed at the base alone, and some remaining Afghan allied forces have provided security.

The US State Department issued a statement signed by about 100 countries, NATO and the European Union on Sunday, stating that they have received “guarantees” from the Taliban that people with travel documents can still leave the country.

The Taliban said they will allow normal travel after the United States completes its withdrawal and takes over the airport on Tuesday. However, given the continuing security issues there, it is unclear how the militants will operate the airport and which commercial airlines will start flying into the area.

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Although the Taliban fulfilled their promise that as long as Western troops withdrew on Tuesday, they will not attack them, but the threat from the local branch of the Islamic State is still a danger. The organization is known as Khorasan Province by the historical name of the area, and some members of the organization were released when prisoners were released across the country during the Taliban’s takeover.

U.S. officials said that on Sunday, a vehicle carrying IS suicide bombers was bombed by a U.S. drone before it attacked the ongoing military evacuation operation at Kabul Airport. An Afghan official said that three children were killed in the strike.

US Military Central Command spokesperson US Navy Captain Bill Urban acknowledged reports of civilian casualties.

He said in a statement: “We will be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent lives.”

The United States carried out another drone strike in other parts of the country on Saturday, saying it killed two members of the Islamic State.

By Tuesday, the United States will end the two-week large-scale airlift, transporting more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners, and withdraw the last batch of troops, ending the longest war between the United States and the Taliban to regain power.

However, Afghans still fear that the Taliban will return to its once-known oppressive rule. There are sporadic reports of killings and other abuses occurring across the country.

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Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Lou Kesten in Washington contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
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