The Taliban and ISIS have both claimed responsibility for a failed rocket attack at Afghanistan’s main airport Wednesday which targeted Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said via Twitter that the Taliban launched the attack at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport and that the main target was Mattis, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that ISIS also claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency.
According to Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danis, five civilians were injured, including one critically. Mattis and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who were in Afghanistan for an unannounced visit, had left the airport hours before the attack.
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Citing U.S. military officials, ABC News reported that up to 40 rounds of munitions struck the airport, 29 of which were rocket-propelled grenades.
Danis said that the rockets were fired from an unknown location and landed in an open area.
Mattis’ trip was not publicized, but two Taliban commanders told NBC News that “insiders” in the Afghan security community and at the Kabul airport had leaked Mattis’ plans to them.
“We fired six rockets and planned to hit the plane of U.S. secretary of defense and other U.S. and NATO military officials,” said one of the commanders.
“We were told by our insiders that some losses were caused to their installations but we are not sure about James Mattis,” the commander added.
Mattis remarked on the attack during a news conference with Ghani and Stoltenberg, saying that he had only heard some news reports but “an attack on an airport anywhere in the world is a criminal act by terrorist.”
“If in fact this is what they have done, they will find the Afghan Security Forces continuing on the offensive against them in every district of the country right now,” Mattis said.
Mattis’ trip to the country was his first since late August, when President Donald Trump announced a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed Afghan special forces were addressing the incident, and had surrounded two houses near the airport in their search for suspects. (For more from the author of “Taliban and ISIS Claim Responsibility for Rocket Attack Targeting James Mattis” please click HERE)