Taliban fighters struck Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan with at least three rockets overnight, the insurgent group’s spokesman said on Sunday, adding that the aim was to thwart air strikes conducted by Afghan government forces.
“Kandahar airport was targeted by us because the enemy were using it as a center to conduct air strikes against us,” Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told our reporters.
Afghan government officials said the rocket attacks forced authorities to suspend all flights and that the runway was partially damaged. There were no immediate reports of casualties, the officials said.
At least three rockets struck Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan overnight, two of them hit the runway… Due to this all flights from the airport have been cancelled.
Pashtun said work to repair the runway was underway and expected the airport to be operational later on Sunday.
An official at the civil aviation authority in Kabul confirmed the rocket attack.
The Taliban have for weeks launched withering assaults on the outskirts of Kandahar, stirring fears that the insurgents were on the verge of capturing the provincial capital.
Kandahar’s air base is vital to providing the logistics and air support needed to keep the militants from overrunning Afghanistan’s second-biggest city.
The attack on the airport came as the Taliban inched closer to overrunning two other provincial capitals — Herat in the west and Lashkar Gah in the south.
The Taliban’s significant territorial gains during the final stages of the US military withdrawal have largely been in sparsely populated rural areas.
The capture of any major urban center would take their current offensive to another level and fuel concerns that the army is incapable of resisting the Taliban’s battlefield gains.
But in recent weeks they have brought increasing pressure on several provincial capitals and seized key border crossings.
The government has repeatedly dismissed the Taliban’s steady territorial gains over the summer as lacking strategic value.