The Taliban said that a U.S. airstrike targeted a suicide bomber in a vehicle Sunday who wanted to attack the Kabul international airport amid the American military’s evacuation there.
There were few initial details about the incident, as well as a rocket that struck a neighborhood just northwest of the airport, killing a child. The two strikes initially appeared to be separate incidents, though information on both remained scarce.
The attack comes as the United States winds down a historic airlift that saw tens of thousands evacuated from Kabul’s international airport, the scene of much of the chaos that engulfed the Afghan capital since the Taliban took over two weeks ago. After an Islamic State affiliate’s suicide attack that killed over 180 people, the Taliban increased its security around the airfield as Britain ended its evacuation flights Saturday.
U.S. military cargo planes continued their runs into the airport Sunday, ahead of a Tuesday deadline earlier set by President Joe Biden to withdraw all troops from America’s longest war. However, Afghans remaining behind in the country worry about the Taliban reverting to their earlier oppressive rule — something fueled by the recent shooting death of a folk singer in the country by the insurgents.
Zabihullah Mujahid said in a message to journalists that the strike targeted the bomber as he drove a vehicle loaded with explosives. Mujahid offered few other details.
U.S. military officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
The rocket attack meanwhile struck Kabul’s Khuwja Bughra neighborhood, said Rashid, the Kabul police chief who goes by one name. Video obtained by The Associated Press in the aftermath of the attack showed smoke rising from building at the site around a kilometer (half a mile) from the airport.
No group immediately claimed the attack, however, militants have fired rockets in the past.