Rockets Hit Kabul as U.S. Defense Secretary and NATO Chief Visit

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More than a dozen rockets hit the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Credit Hedayatullah Amid/European Pressphoto Agency

KABUL, Afghanistan — More than a dozen rockets landed at the international airport in Kabul and near the American Embassy on Wednesday as the United States defense secretary and NATO’s secretary general were meeting with the Afghan president, the first high-profile visit to the presidential palace since President Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy.

The rockets, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility, once again highlighted the country’s fragile security situation and the insurgency’s reach in even the most fortified areas of the capital. Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the group had targeted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s aircraft.

“There has been an attack, our special forces are dealing with it,” the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, said during a news conference on Wednesday. “This attacking civilian targets is a sign of weakness, not strength.”

Mr. Mattis, speaking at the same news conference, said: “An attack on an international airport, anywhere in the world, is a criminal act by terrorists. It is a classic example of what the Taliban are up to right now.”

After the rocket strikes, Afghan helicopters circled over the capital’s diplomatic quarters and the airport. Gen. Salim Almas, the deputy commander of the Kabul police, said Afghan forces had started an operation in the area from where the rockets were fired.

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Source: New York Times

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