Taliban assault on Kabul airport ends with seven militants dead
A small Taliban unit assaulted the Kabul airport just before dawn today. Afghan police and Army units handled the response.
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Rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire shook Kabul this morning in a predawn militant attack on Afghanistan’s international airport, which houses a NATO headquarters. Afghan forces responded to the assault quickly, putting an end to the attack four hours after it began.
The Taliban claimed responsibility via texts and e-mails during the attack, which began just after 4 a.m. All seven militants involved died – five were killed by Afghan forces and two detonated suicide bomb vests – and there were no civilian or security force casualties, reports The Wall Street Journal.
“It started just after dawn prayers and I counted about a dozen explosions, mostly RPG fire, coming from (near) the airport,” a resident who lives near the airport told The Associated Press. Two buildings that were under construction and located near the airport were used by the Taliban during the attack.
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Mohammad Yaqub Rasuli, the head of Kabul’s international airport, said that civilian flights were halted during the attack, but runways reopened soon after. According to the Los Angeles Times, the non-civilian side of the Kabul airport has a military wing, which hosts the Afghan Air Force, and NATO’s Joint Command headquarters.
This was the third attack in Kabul in a matter of weeks; a concentration of violence that analysts see as an attempt by the Taliban to intimidate locals in the lead up to the withdrawal of most foreign troops next year.
“By launching today's attack, the Taliban are showing they want to have a full hand at the negotiations table,” Abdul Wahid Taqat, a Kabul-based military analyst, told the Los Angeles Times.
Striking high-profile, well-guarded targets such as Afghan and NATO bases, even if the strikes fail, achieves several objectives, analysts said. The attacks spread fear and respect for the insurgency among ordinary Afghans as well as those working with foreign troops, which can help the Taliban and other militant groups recruit members.