CNN, August 30, 2021
As many as 5 rockets were fired on Kabul airport, says US official
At least 200 people were wounded in the attack on Thursday
By Alex Marquardt and Jessie Yeung
As many as five rockets were fired at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Monday local time, a US official told CNN.
The C-RAM defense system installed at the airport engaged with the rockets, the official said. There are no reports of any casualties at this time.C-RAM is an automated system that detects incoming attacks and uses a machine gun to destroy the incoming fire before it can hit its target. The system has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to intercept and destroy incoming projectiles targeting US forces.
The US official said the rockets aimed at the airport were likely launched by ISIS-K, but cautioned it was too early to know for sure.A civilian vehicle was apparently used as an improvised platform in the rocket attack. Video obtained by CNN showed the vehicle in flames on a street in Kabul's Khair Khana neighborhood after the rockets were fired.
The incinerated remnants of the car are covered with debris, the glass missing from all windows and rubber melted from the tires. The car appears to have been modified, with six large tubes visible inside the charred skeleton.Zia ud Din, a potato-chip seller whose house was next to where the car was parked, heard the bang of the rockets launching.
"There were a few big bangs, we all were inside the house -- the whole family -- when we heard the loud bangs, we ran into the garden, everything caught fire," he said. "Fortunately, no one is killed or injured."
Taliban fighters had initially cordoned off the street, telling bystanders the situation remained dangerous, though they later allowed journalists on the street.
Eyewitnesses said one of the rockets hit a nearby building. A rocket impact was visible on a nearby high-rise tower, though Taliban fighters and eyewitnesses said there were no casualties in the building.
The rocket strike comes just days after two suicide bomb attacks at the airport killed more than 170 people, including 13 American service members. At least 200 people were wounded in the attack on Thursday.
ISIS in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, has claimed that an ISIS militant carried out the suicide attack, but provided no evidence to support the claim.The attack took place among huge crowds gathered outside the airport, with Afghans desperately seeking a way out of Kabul. Efforts to evacuate people have wound down in recent days, as the US's August 31 deadline approaches.Approximately 1,200 people were evacuated from the capital in the last 24 hours, almost entirely on US military flights, according to the White House on Monday. That figure is down from a high point last week when 21,000 people were evacuated in a 24-hour period.It brings the total to approximately 116,700 people evacuated from Afghanistan since August 14, and 122,300 people since late July.On Saturday, US President Joe Biden warned that another terrorist attack on the airport was "highly likely in the next 24-36 hours," citing US military commanders.
The next day US forces launched a drone strike targeting suspected ISIS-K militants, the second such strike in three days. Though the US initially said there were no indications of civilian casualties, the military acknowledged reports of casualties later on Sunday.
Nine members of one family -- including six children, the youngest only 2 years old -- were killed in a drone strike targeting a vehicle in Kabul, a relative of the family told CNN.
US forces have been racing to complete their evacuation operation from Afghanistan before Tuesday's deadline to withdraw all US troops and under the threat of a new terror attack on the airport.
Although the government has faced calls both internationally and internally to extend the deadline, Biden has insisted they will finish operations by the end of the month.Earlier Monday, Kabul residents said they had heard a blast in the early hours of the morning, though there was no clear indication of the kind of explosion or any official confirmation of the source of the blast.Biden has been briefed on the rocket attack, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement.Psaki added that Biden was informed "operations continue uninterrupted" at the airport, as Tuesday's deadline approaches.
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