Insurgents fired a barrage of rockets at the Kabul International Airport on Wednesday that they claimed was targeting the plane of US Defense Secretary James Mattis. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State (ISIS) rushed to claim responsibility for the attack.
The US then responded with an airstrike at the suspected launch sites. One of the missiles fired by the US apparently malfunctioned and hit a civilian area. There were civilian casualties, however, the extent wasn’t immediately known.
In the attack by the Taliban, one civilian Afghan woman was killed and 11 others wounded before Afghan Special Forces drove them off, killing four insurgents in the resulting battle.
Speaking on the brazen attack by the insurgents, a statement by the US military admitted the missile response and the malfunction that followed.
“Tragically, one of the missiles malfunctioned, causing several casualties,” the U.S. command said. It expressed regret for having harmed civilians but did not say whether any of the casualties were killed.
“We take every precaution to avoid civilian casualties, even as the enemies of Afghanistan continue to operate in locations that deliberately put civilians at very high risk,” it added. The statement said the original Taliban attackers had fired several rounds of “high-explosive ammunition, including mortars, in the vicinity of” the Kabul airport.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack on his official Twitter account. The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) also claimed responsibility for the attack.
The U.S. statement said the insurgents also detonated suicide vests, “endangering a great number of civilians.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a press interview stated, that the “attack on the airport is a sign of weakness, not the sign of strength” and added that to “attack a civilian airport is a criminal act, it is terrorist act and it just shows the importance of fighting these kinds of organizations in Afghanistan.”
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