Militants killed after audacious attack
on Kabul airport
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[July 17, 2014]
By Mirwais Harooni and Abdul Saboor
KABUL (Reuters) - Militants armed with
rocket-propelled grenades attacked Kabul International Airport in the
Afghan capital on Thursday in one of the most audacious assaults on the
facility, used by both civilians and the military, in a year.
The attack on the airport comes at a time of great uncertainty for
Afghanistan as votes from the second round of a disputed
presidential election are to be recounted. The poll is meant to mark
Afghanistan's first democratic transfer of power.
The attack lasted about four hours after four unidentified militants
armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades opened
fire on the airport from the roof of a building just to its north.
"Four terrorists were killed by police special forces. The area is
being cleared now, there are no casualties to our forces," said
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
The airport is home to a major operational base for NATO-led forces
that have been fighting Taliban and other insurgents for 12 years
and is bristling with soldiers and police, guard towers and several
lines of security checkpoints.
Militants fire rockets into the airport almost every week, causing
little damage, but frontal attacks on the heavily guarded facility
are rare and represent an ambitious target for insurgents. The
attack was similar in tactics to last year's assault on the airport,
when seven Taliban insurgents including suicide bombers attacked
after taking up positions inside a partially constructed building
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest
A Kabul airport official told Reuters all flights had been diverted
to other cities. In such circumstances, passenger planes are
immediately diverted to other Afghan cities such as Mazar-i-Sharif
in the north or Herat in the west.
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"Due to the closeness of the attack to the runway, Kabul airport is
now closed to all flights," the official said. Planes could be heard
circling above Kabul as the attack unfolded.
A Reuters witness near the scene earlier saw black smoke billowing
above the airport and heard several explosions. A car had been set
on fire not far from the scene.
On Tuesday, a car bomb detonated in a crowded market killed 43
people and wounded at least 74 in the eastern province of Paktika,
close to Afghanistan's porous border with Pakistan.
(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Paul Tait)
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