U.S. anti-missile defences intercepted as many as five rockets that were fired at Kabul’s airport early on Monday morning, a U.S. official said, as the United States rushed to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan to end its longest war.
U.S. and allied forces are hurrying to evacuate their remaining citizens and at-risk Afghans before completing their own withdrawal by Tuesday to meet a deadline agreed between the Taliban and Washington.
The mission became more urgent and dangerous after an Islamic State suicide bomb attack on Thursday killed 13 U.S. military personnel and scores of Afghan civilians outside the airport.
The U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters initial reports did not indicate any U.S. casualties from the latest rocket attack, but that information could change.
Afghan media reports said the rocket attack was mounted from the back of a vehicle. According to Pajhwok news agency, several rockets struck different parts of the Afghan capital.
The United States and allies have evacuated about 114 400 people – including foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans – in an operation that began a day before Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15, but tens of thousands more desperate Afghans face being left behind.
“We tried every option because our lives are in danger. They (the Americans or foreign powers) must show us a way to be saved. We should leave Afghanistan or they should provide a safe place for us,” said one woman outside the airport.
Two U.S. officials told Reuters evacuations would continue on Monday, prioritising people deemed at extreme risk.
Other countries have also put in last-minute requests to bring out people under that category, the officials said.
U.S. President Joe Biden attended a ceremony on Sunday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honour members of the U.S. military killed in Thursday’s attack.
Biden shut his eyes and tilted his head back as the flag-draped transfer caskets carrying the remains emerged from a military plane.
None of the fallen service members was over the age of 31, and five were just 20, as old as the war in Afghanistan itself.
Biden has vowed to avenge the Islamic State attack.