Rockets hit neighbourhood near Kabul airport amid US pullout

Rockets struck a neighbourhood near Kabul”s international airport on Monday amid the ongoing U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It wasn’t immediately clear who launched them.

The rockets struck in Kabul’s Salim Karwan neighborhood, witnesses said. Gunfire immediately followed the explosions but it wasn’t immediately clear who was firing.

A witness who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said they heard the sound of three explosions and then saw a flash, like fire, in the sky.

People fled after the blasts, the witness said.

In a statement, the White House said that “operations continue uninterrupted” at Kabul airport.

On Sunday, a U.S. drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate before they could attack the ongoing military evacuation at Kabul’s international airport, American officials said. An Afghan official said three children were killed in the strike.

The U.S. is to withdraw from Afghanistan by Tuesday. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is to hold a virtual ministerial meeting with key partners on Monday at 20:30 CEST.

‘Assurances from the Taliban’

In a statement released on Sunday, the US and 98 other countries including most European Union member states said they “remained committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals, residents, employees, Afghans who have worked for us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan.”

“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorisation from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” they added. The signatories of the statements also include NATO and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.

Several countries have ended their evacuation operations as the security around Kabul airport deteriorated, including France, Germany and the UK.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Sunday evening that its diplomatic team in Kabul as well as special forces soldiers and police officers had arrived in France on the country’s last evacuation flight.

Overall, France has evacuated 2,834 people out of Afghanistan, including 142 French nationals and 2,630 Afghans. A further 600 Afghan staff and their families were also evacuated by Paris between May ad July.

Britain’s Operation Pitting enabled the evacuation of 15,000 people, the Ministry of Defense said on Sunday. Germany flew more than 5,000 people out of Afghanistan.

Jake Sullivan, national security adviser for US President Joe Biden, said Washington has “the capacity to have 300 Americans, which is roughly the number we think are remaining, come to the airport and get on planes in the time that is remaining” before the complete military withdrawal on Tuesday.

“We moved out more than that number just yesterday. So from our point of view, there is an opportunity right now for American citizens to come, to be admitted to the airport and to be evacuated safely and effectively,” he added

The US have so far evacuated more than 110,000 people.

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