Fall of Afghanistan: Large ‘explosion’ heard near Kabul airport blamed on ‘rocket’
Kabul has been hit with a “large” rocket blast just hours after US warned of a “specific, credible threat” near the airport with a child reportedly killed in the horror.
Other witnesses have described as a “large explosion” just northwest of Kabul’s international airport, after the stark warning from the US which said another terror attack was likely and urged citizens to avoid the area.
The blast was heard in the Afghan capital by AFP journalists, with a security official from the recently deposed government telling the publication it was believed to be a rocket.
“Initial information shows it hit a house,” the official said.
It comes at the same time the US confirmed it carried out an airstrike targeting an Islamic State suicide bomber in a vehicle who wanted to strike Kabul airport.
The Taliban also confirmed the story, but it is not confirmed if both incidents are linked.
The rocket attack meanwhile struck Kabul’s Khuwja Bughra neighbourhood, said Rashid, the Kabul police chief who goes by one name.
According to local news outlet, Khaama Press, the “powerful explosion” showed a column of smoke rising from the blast into the sky.
Footage shared by freelance journalist Shafi Karimi shows the apparent aftermath of the explosion at the site around a kilometre from the airport.
No group immediately claimed the attack, however militants have fired rockets in the past.
The nature of blast and casualties are not immediately clear but former Wall Street Journalist Habib Khan, who is based in Kabul, said the rocket landed in a residential house.
“Casualties feared,” he tweeted. with Al Jazeera reporting a child was killed and three people were injured when the shell fell on a house.
A health ministry official told the BBC the airport “was not hit directly”.
It comes as a western security official revealed US forces are in the “final phase” of leaving Afghanistan.
The official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters that just over 1000 civilians remain at the airport waiting to be evacuated.
US president Joe Biden has remained firm on sticking to the deadline, August 31, where all US troops will withdraw from the country.
“We want to ensure that every foreign civilian and those who are at risk are evacuated today. Forces will start flying out once this process is over,” said the official, who is stationed at the airport.
Meanwhile a Taliban official told the publication they are “waiting for the final nod from the Americans to secure full control over Kabul airport as both sides aim for a swift handover.”
The new threat comes just days after a deadly attack on crowds fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
A series of urgent terror warnings have rattled evacuation efforts overseen by US forces, who have been forced into closer security co-operation with the Taliban to prevent a repeat of Thursday’s carnage at one of the facility’s main access gates.
“Due to a specific, credible threat, all US citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport … should leave the airport area immediately,” the US Embassy in Kabul said in a security alert.
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