Vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from ISIL affiliate hit before they could target airport, US officials say.
A US drone strike struck a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from Afghanistan’s ISIL affiliate before they could target the ongoing military evacuation at Kabul’s international airport, American officials said on Sunday.
There were few initial details about the incident, as well as a rocket that struck a neighbourhood near the airport.
Two American military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations, called the airstrike successful and said the vehicle carried multiple bombers.
US Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the American military’s Central Command, called the drone strike an action taken in “self-defence.” He said authorities continued “assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time.”
“We are confident we successfully hit the target,” Urban said. “Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid earlier said in a message to journalists that the US strike targeted a suicide bomber as he drove a vehicle loaded with explosives. Mujahid offered few other details.
The strike was the second by America since the airport suicide bombing. The Pentagon said Saturday that retaliation drone strikes had killed two “high-level” ISKP targets in eastern Afghanistan, but Biden warned of more attacks from the group.
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” Biden said.
“Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours.”
The US embassy in Kabul later released a warning of credible threats at specific areas of the airport, including access gates.
Meanwhile on Sunday, an Afghan police chief said a rocket has struck a neighbourhood northwest of Kabul’s international airport killing a child.
Rashid, the Kabul police chief who goes by one name, told The Associated Press that the rocket struck Khuwja Bughra neighbourhood on Sunday afternoon.
No group immediately claimed the attack.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kabul, said people in the neighbourhood also reported that a rocket hit a house.
“It comes at a time of increasing tension here, the closer we get to this evacuation deadline,” he said.