Afghanistan: Explosions, gunfire heard near Kabul airport

10th Jun 2013

Taliban insurgents have launched an attack on Afghanistan’s main international airport in Kabul, reportedly storming two buildings at the site. The heavily guarded airport is home to a large NATO-led military base.

Police said at least seven heavily-armed militants launched the attack before 5 a.m. local time (0030 UTC) on Monday.

Witnesses reportedly heard the sound of loud explosions followed by automatic weapons fire. The attackers reportedly took control of at least one building and began firing at the airport.

According to Kabul chief of police Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, all seven militants have been killed.

“There were seven assailants – two [suicide bombers] died detonating themselves and five others were killed in fighting,” Salangi said.

He added that there had been no reports of civilian or security force casualties, although two people had been wounded. The Taliban have claimed responisbility for the attack.

It remains unclear whether there was any damage to facilities inside the airport, which houses the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command headquarters.

An attack on the heavily guarded airport, used by both civilians and the military, would represent an ambitious target for insurgents who generally stage assaults against less well-protected targets.

ISAF said international forces were involved in the military response.

Germany opens Afghan consulate

Monday’s attack comes a day after German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle opened a new consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where a number of German troops are stationed.

At the opening ceremony, Westerwelle pledged German support for Afghanistan beyond the planned exit of NATO’s combat troops next year.

“[After the withdrawal] Germany will maintain its broad civil engagement and will continue to train Afghan security forces,” Westerwelle said.

Germany currently has 4,200 combat troops in Afghanistan. Beyond the 2014 exit deadline between 600 and 800 troops will remain to provide support for Afghan security forces. Germany also plans to provide up to 580 million euros ($767 million) per year for further development in the country.

ccp/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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