Militants rain rockets on Kabul airport as US defence secretary arrives

27 September 2017

Militants fired around 20-30  rockets at the Kabul international airport only hours after US defence secretary James Mattis landed in the Afghan capital. Taliban and the Islamic State have both taken credit for the attack, according to reports.

Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport was today attacked with rocket fire, TOLO News and news agencies reported, but there were no reports of casualties. TOLO TV is a commercial television station in Afghanistan.

According to TOLO, between 20 and 30 rockets had been fired at the Kabul airport and the Taliban had claimed responsibility.

However, Reuters reported separately that the Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack. Reuters quoted ISIS's news agency, Amaq, as saying that "infiltrators" used SPG-9 rockets and mortars for the attack.

TOLO reported Taliban as saying that US defence secretary James Mattis, who arrived in Afghanistan earlier in the day, was the target of the attack.

TOLO further reported that the rocket attack, which started around 11.15 am, had led to the cancellation of all flights at the airport.

In separate reports news agencies AFP and Reuters said the rockets landed at the Kabul airport after US defence secretary James Mattis landed in Afghanistan.

Mattis, arrived in Afghanistan with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, the visit was, however, not annouced.

According to commentators, Mattis is the first member of the US president's cabinet to visit Afghanistan since the strategy announcement to keep American boots on the ground there indefinitely.

The high-level visit comes as Afghan security forces struggle to beat back the Taliban which has been on the offensive following the withdrawal of US-led NATO combat troops at the end of 2014.

The resurgent militants have threatened to turn Afghanistan into a ''graveyard'' for foreign forces.

US generals have been describing the situation in Afghanistan a ''stalemate'', even after extending support for Afghan partners for years, continued help from a NATO coalition and an overall cost in fighting and reconstruction to the US of over $1 trillion.

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