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US repels rocket attack on Kabul airport as mission in Afghanistan nears end

As Washington rushes to complete evacuations from Afghanistan, US air-defence systems reportedly intercepted as many as five rockets fired at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on early 30 August, a few hours after US had launched an airstrike on a explosive-laden vehicle carrying suspected Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K or ISIS-K) militants.

Afghan news agency Pajhwok reported that the rockets were fired from the back of a car, that other rockets struck residential parts of the Afghan capital. It was not immediately clear anyone was hurt, but the attack did not the evacuation of US citizens and at-risk Afghans as Washington prepares to wrap up its 20-year-long military mission in Afghanistan by 31 August.

The White House said in a statement that US President Joe Biden was informed about the rocket attack, adding that he “reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritise doing whatever is necessary to protect our [US] forces on the ground”.

The rocket attack came after the US military launched a “self-defence ... over-the-horizon airstrike” on a vehicle in Kabul on 29 August that “disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat” to Kabul airport, according to US Central Command (USCENTCOM).

The command noted that the airstrike, which was conducted from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), caused “significant secondary explosions”, indicating “the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material” inside the vehicle.

The Al Jazeera media outlet quoted sources on the ground as saying that several children were also killed as a result of the blast.

“We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today [29 August],” said the US command.

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