Afghanistan: Rockets target Kabul airport after children killed in US air strike

30 August 2021, 12:10 | Updated: 30 August 2021, 15:00

US troops at Kabul airport
US troops at Kabul airport. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Several rockets were fired at Kabul's international airport on Monday, the day before the deadline for American troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The US says it intercepted as many as five rockets believed to have been fired from a car in the capital's Chahr-e-Shaheed neighbourhood.

The four-door car reportedly had six home-made rocket tubes mounted where the back seat should be.

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The so-called Islamic State group's offshoot in Afghanistan, Isis-K, claimed responsibility.

Local resident Jaiuddin Khan said: "I was inside the house with my children and other family members, suddenly there were some blasts. We jumped into the house compound and lay on the ground."

The rockets landed across town in Kabul's Salim Karwan neighbourhood, striking residential apartment blocks, witnesses said.

The neighbourhood is nearly two miles from the airport.

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There were no reports of any casualties.

In Washington, the White House issued a statement saying officials briefed President Joe Biden on "the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport" in Kabul.

"The president was informed that operations continue uninterrupted at HKIA, and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritise doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground," the statement said.

The US military did not respond to requests for comment.

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

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Planes were taking off roughly every 20 minutes at one point on Monday morning.

It comes after Isis-K launched a devastating suicide bombing at one of the airport gates last week that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members.

Some of members of the group were freed as the Taliban released prisoners across the country during its takeover.

On Sunday, a US drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying Islamic State suicide bombers before they could attack the ongoing military evacuation at Kabul's airport, American officials said.

An Afghan official said three children were killed in the strike.

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US Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the American military's Central Command, acknowledged the reports of civilian casualties.

"We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life," he said.

The US carried out another drone strike elsewhere in the country on Saturday which it said killed two Islamic State members.

By Tuesday, the country is set to conclude the evacuation of more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners and withdraw the last of its troops, nearly 20 years after the initial invasion that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Afghans remain fearful of the Taliban returning to the oppressive rule for which it was once known.

There have been sporadic reports of killings and other abuses as the group swept across the country and seized power.

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