KABUL/WASHINGTON: As many as five rockets were fired at Kabul`s international airport but were intercepted by a missile defence system as the United States raced to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
A US government official, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, earlier said the rockets were fired early Monday morning Kabul time, though it was unclear if all were brought down by the defence system.
Initial reports did not indicate any US casualties, but that information could change, the official said.
However, the United States later confirmed that rockets were fired at Kabul airport. It issued a statement in which it said that the ‘operations continue uninterrupted’.
White House confirms rocket attack at Kabul airport, says operations continue uninterrupted pic.twitter.com/fNfkayOcqu
— ANI (@ANI) August 30, 2021
Earlier on Sunday, American forces launched a drone strike in Kabul targeting a suicide bomber in a vehicle that was aiming to attack the airport.
There is increasing concern that Islamic State militants will launch further attacks on the airport as US troops hurry to evacuate remaining American citizens and at-risk Afghans, before competing their own withdrawal by Aug. 31.
Officials had warned in the past that ISIS-K militants were looking to target the airport with rockets. But the United States has experience in countering such rockets, primarily in Iraq, and had already installed missile defence systems.
“We know that they (ISIS-K) would like to lob a rocket in there if they could,” General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, told reporters in Washington last week. “Now we actually have pretty good protection against that. We have our anti-rocket and mortar system,” McKenzie said.
There is greater concern about suicide bombers and car bombs attacking the airport, after a suicide bomb attack on Thursday that killed scores of Afghans and 13 US service members.
On Saturday, US President Joe Biden said the situation on the ground remained extremely dangerous, and that his military chiefs had told him another militant attack was highly likely within the next 24-36 hours.