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Rockets fired at Kabul airport as US Afghan withdrawal enters final phase

Rockets were launched at Kabul International Airport on Monday morning as the US withdrawal from Afghanistan entered what President Biden said was his penultimate day. There was no immediate word on who fired the projectiles.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement saying Mr. Biden has been briefed “on the rocket attack” and “has been informed that operations are continuing uninterrupted at HKIA, and reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritize whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground. “

The Associated Press quoted witnesses as saying that the rockets hit the Salim Karwan neighborhood of Kabul. Gunshots then erupted, but it was not clear who was shooting, the AP said.

Rockets fired at Kabul airport as US Afghan withdrawal enters final phase
Taliban fighters investigate a damaged car after several rockets were fired in Kabul on August 30, 2021. Rockets passed through the Afghan capital as the United States rushed to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the evacuation of people. civilians almost over and fears of terrorist attacks high.

WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP via Getty Images

The Reuters news service reported that up to five rockets were fired but were intercepted by a missile defense system, according to a US official. There were no initial reports of casualties.

The attempted rocket attack occurred the next day the United States carried out an airstrike on an ISIS-K vehicle loaded with explosives Close to the airport. It was the second such strike against the militant group in a deadly attack on US forces Last week.

US Navy Captain Bill Urban, spokesperson for Central Command, said in a statement that the strike was carried out by a drone and eliminated “an imminent ISIS-K threat” to Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Urban initially said there were no suspected civilian casualties, but an Afghan official told The Associated Press that three children were killed in the strike. Later Sunday, Urban said central command was aware of reports that civilians had been killed and that they were “still evaluating the results of this strike.”

Rockets fired at Kabul airport as US Afghan withdrawal enters final phase
Rocket launchers are seen inside a destroyed vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 30, 2021. Rockets hit a neighborhood near Kabul International Airport as part of the ongoing US withdrawal. Afghanistan. It was not immediately clear who threw them.

Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi / AP

“We know that there were subsequent substantial and powerful explosions resulting from the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside which could have caused additional casualties,” Urban said. “We do not know what may have happened, and we are investigating further. “

“We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent lives,” he said in a statement.

A defense official told CBS News there was uncertainty over whether the strike destroyed a car bomb or killed a suicide bomber in the car. Early reports indicated the car was carrying a suicide bomber, but the size of the secondary explosion convinced some analysts that it was a fully loaded car bomb.

A defense official said the strike was ordered after two men were seen loading explosives into the trunk of a car. The car was hit by a Hellfire missile, which produced a small explosion followed by a much larger secondary explosion.

Bilal Karimi, a senior official for the Taliban spokesman, said the airstrike hit the vehicle near the airport. He said three suspected people were in the vehicle at the time of the strike. Karimi said the US military told the Taliban that a vehicle full of explosives would arrive in Kabul and the US would destroy it.

Biden commemorates 13 soldiers killed …


Last week’s attack on the Abbey Gate at Kabul airport left at least 170 dead, including 13 American servicemen. US officials said an ISIS-K operative carried out the bombing and promised to retaliate against those responsible.

An American airstrike on Friday, the first since the attack, kill two “high-level” ISIS-K planners and facilitators and injured another, Pentagon officials said.

Sunday morning’s strike came after the State Department issued an alert warning people not to come to the airport due to a “specific and credible threat” – a warning similar to that issued just hours before the devastating explosion at Abbey Gate last week.

The operations against ISIS-K militants come as the United States rushes to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the city ahead of President Biden’s August 31 withdrawal deadline. The White House said the United States facilitated the evacuation of 2,900 people from the capital over a 24-hour period beginning Saturday morning and has helped 114,000 people leave since August 14.

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the United States will continue to attack ISIS-K militants who orchestrated the attack on the nation. ‘airport.

“[The president] he will also talk to his commanders about any set of tools and abilities they need to bring the people who attacked and killed our troops to the Kabul airport and to ensure that we degrade and weaken the group, ISIS-K, who carried out this attack, ”Sullivan said. “So, yes, we will continue to carry out the kinds of strikes on the horizon like we did this weekend against ISIS-K facilitators and plotters. And, yes, we will consider other operations to pursue these guys, recover them and remove them from the battlefield. “

Mr Biden has vowed to fight back against those who facilitated Thursday’s deadly attack.

“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said in a White House address shortly after the explosion.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Saturday that there were active threats against the airport, which were “still very real” and “dynamic”.

During a press briefing last week, General Frank McKenzie, head of the U.S. Central Command, said the United States is closely monitoring the threat of a suicide bombing of a small car or a large truck. .