Islamic State claims responsibility for rocket attack near Kabul airport.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on Kabul airport on Monday, the group’s Nasher News said on its Telegram channel.

Rockets struck Salim Karwan, a neighbourhood near the airport, on Monday morning amid the ongoing US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Gunfire immediately followed the explosions but it was not clear who was firing.

A United States official said US anti-missile defences intercepted as many as five rockets.

A witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said they heard the sound of three explosions and then saw a flash in the sky.

People fled after the blasts, the witness said.

Later on Monday, Islamic State said: “By the grace of God almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate targeted Kabul International Airport with six Katyusha rockets.”

US military cargo planes continued their evacuations at the airport after the rocket fire.

In Washington, the White House issued a statement saying officials briefed US president Joe Biden on “the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport” (HKIA) in Kabul.

The statement said: “The president was informed that operations continue uninterrupted at HKIA, and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritise doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground.”

On Sunday, a US drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate before they could attack the ongoing military evacuation at Kabul’s international airport, American officials said.

An Afghan official said three children were killed in the strike.

The US is to withdraw from Afghanistan by Tuesday. By then, the the country is set to conclude a massive two-week-long airlift of more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners and withdraw the last of its troops, ending America’s longest war with the Taliban back in power.

The US State Department released a statement on Sunday signed by around 100 countries, as well as Nato and the European Union, saying they had received “assurances” from the Taliban that people with travel documents would still be able to leave the country.

The Taliban have said they will allow normal travel after the US withdrawal is completed and they assume control of the airport.

However, Afghans remain fearful of the Taliban returning to the oppressive rule for which it was once known. There have been sporadic reports of killings and other abuses in the sweep across the country.

Earlier this week, an Islamic State suicide attack outside the airport killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members.

The US carried out a drone strike elsewhere in the country on Saturday that it said killed two members of the Islamic State’s local affiliate in Afghanistan, which has battled the Taliban in the past. – AP, Reuters

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