The missile attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport follows a U.S. airstrike Sunday against an Islamic State "booby-trapped vehicle" near the airport less than 48 hours before Washington withdrew its last soldiers from the troubled country. The White House spokeswoman confirmed the missile attacks, noting that evacuations continued uninterrupted.
Several rockets were fired Monday at Kabul airport in Afghanistan, witnesses and security sources said, less than 48 hours before the United States was due to withdraw its last troops from Afghanistan. Rockets were heard before the morning rush hour began.
White House spokeswoman Jane Saki confirmed Monday that there had been a rocket attack on Kabul airport, noting that "evacuations continue without interruption."
President Joe Biden set a deadline of Tuesday to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan to end the longest war the United States has fought and began in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The Taliban's renewed control of power after it was overthrown by a U.S.-led international coalition in 2001, 15 days ago, caused large numbers of Afghans to flow into Kabul airport in the hope of boarding a plane as part of u.S.-led evacuations, fearing retaliation from the militant movement.
The flights, which allowed the evacuation of more than 120,000 people through Kabul airport, will officially end Tuesday with the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops On Tuesday (August 31st). But the U.S. military is now focusing on withdrawing U.S. soldiers and diplomats in particular.
President Joe Biden was informed that operations were continuing uninterruptedly at Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul, and renewed his instructions to officials to redouble efforts to do whatever it takes to protect our forces on the ground," Saki said in a statement.
A security official working in the administration toppled by the Taliban two weeks ago said the rockets were fired from a vehicle north of Kabul. A U.S. official said about five missiles were fired at Kabul airport before being intercepted by a U.S. anti-missile system.
Residents heard the sound of the response of the airport's missile defense system, also speaking of shrapnel falling on a street, indicating that at least one rocket had been intercepted.
Smoke was seen rising over buildings in the area where Hamid Karzai International Airport is located. Social media posts that could not be immediately verified showed a car burning, but no further details were immediately available. This comes a day after a US airstrike in Kabul on Sunday.
U.S. Central Command spokesman Bill Urban said Sunday's "U.S. defensive strike" by a drone from outside Afghanistan targeted "a mechanism in Kabul to eliminate an imminent threat to ISIS -- Khorasan Province -- against Hamid Karzai International Airport." "We are confident that we hit the target," he said, adding that "secondary powerful explosions originating from the mechanism showed a large amount of explosives" inside.
We can't sleep.
There were no reports of injuries or damage to the airport, but this incident increased the concern of residents suffering from the trauma of the long years of war.
"Since the Americans took over the airport, we cannot sleep properly," said Abdullah, who lives near the airport. Either we hear gunfire, rockets, sirens, or massive aircraft engine noise. Now they are being directly attacked, which could put our lives at risk."
"Innocent lives may be lost in Kabul."
The United States said Sunday's airstrike on the car bomb eliminated a new threat from the Islamic State. However, the raid may have killed civilians.
"We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following the raid (we carried out) on a vehicle in Kabul today (Sunday)," said US Central Command spokesman Bill Urban. "We are still assessing the results of this strike, which we know has disrupted an imminent threat to ISIS -Khorasan Province" against Kabul airport. "We will be deeply saddened by any possible loss of innocent lives," he said.
Taliban leader Mullah Aakhandzadeh
The Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August by overthrowing the Western-backed Government, confirmed that it would rule differently from its 1996-2001 rule when it banned girls and women from studying and working.
But many Afghans fear imposing the movement's hardline approach as well as retaliating against people who have cooperated with foreign forces and Western missions or with the previous U.S.-backed government.
On Sunday, the Taliban announced that its supreme leader, Hibaullah Aachendzadeh, who had never appeared in public, was in southern Afghanistan. "He is in Kandahar," said The Movement's spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid. He lives here from the beginning," said assistant speaker Bilal Karimi, adding that he would "soon appear in public".