The Islamic State extremist group has claimed an attack on Kabul airport on Monday, after reports said several missiles were fired earlier in the day.
In a statement, Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, said “the caliphate’s soldiers targeted Kabul international airport with six katyusha rockets.”
The statement said people were injured, without elaborating.
Local broadcaster ToloNews reported that rockets were fired from Khair Khana in Kabul’s north, citing witnesses.
CNN reported at least five missiles fired towards the airport, citing US government officials.
There was no initial information on potential casualties or damage.
The airport’s aerial defence system was activated, triggering a machine gun that destroys approaching objects before they strike. It had been tested only a few weeks ago.
Videos shared on social media showed a burning car, apparently hit by one of the rockets. The car’s remains were covered in debris and its tyres had melted.
It was not possible to verify whether the missiles had been fired from the vehicle.
The incident comes amid continued high tensions during a chaotic Western pull-out from the region, plus lingering questions about the country’s political future.
But some clarity came in an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu.
Hibatullah Akhundzada, the reclusive leader of the Taliban – who has been largely absent from the picture since the fundamentalist group took control of most of Afghanistan earlier this month – is back in the country, the group told the agency.
“Hibatullah Akhundzada is conducting talks in Kandahar,” said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid during the late Sunday interview.
The group’s deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, has been in Afghanistan since shortly after the Taliban’s surprise takeover of the country, in an offensive that ousted a Western-backed government and put plans by the US and its allies to evacuate citizens and Afghans seeking safety into disarray.
Mujahid said the Taliban will now focus on accessing Afghan state funds overseas and said the country’s financial problems will be solved once the new government is in place. Although the Taliban has been blocked from overseas reserves by other countries that fear the Taliban will use control of the country to support terrorism, Mujahid said the Taliban has its own sources of revenue.
The Taliban hopes to work with Turkey, said the spokesperson, on everything from the economy to education.
“The Turkish people and their state are our friends. There are a lot of reasons why our friendship should stay intact.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already said Turkey stands prepared to help Afghanistan rebuild. Although Turkey has removed its troops, it has kept its embassy open in Afghanistan, unlike many Western countries.
Nonetheless, the remaining troops in Kabul are working to keep the airport safe, despite the continuing threats.
The US military carried out an airstrike on a car on Sunday. Doing so averted an “imminent threat” to the airport from the terrorist group known as called Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K.
At least 10 civilians died in the weekend airstrike, according to a report by Afghan broadcaster ToloNews.
Residents told the news channel that there were children among the deceased. US officials say they are still investigating the incident, but said they did find explosives in the car.
The situation in Kabul remains volatile after ISIS-K claimed responsibility for Thursday’s airport bombing that killed dozens of people, including 13 US soldiers.
The total number of deaths is not clear. Broadcaster CNN said there were up to 200.
CNN also reported that Washington had completed its evacuation mission, with US troops still planning to depart from Kabul by Tuesday.
Some 114,000 people have been airlifted from Afghanistan since mid-August, according to the White House.