KABUL, Afghanistan – Gunmen used rockets to attack the Kabul International Airport in the Afghan capital Thursday, a senior military official said.
The gunmen occupied two buildings, which were under construction, 700 meters (yards) north of the airport, and were using them as a base to fire rockets and gunfire toward the airport and ISAF jet fighters flying over Kabul, said Afzal Aman, a general in the Afghan army in Kabul.
The predawn attack comes during a tense time in Afghanistan as a recount is underway from the second round of a disputed presidential election.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a call to The Associated Press, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Aman said several rockets hit the airport but no planes had been damaged so far. He said two attackers had been killed by Afghan forces.
Besides civilian traffic, the airport is used as a base for NATO-led forces that have been fighting for more than a decade against Taliban and others. Rocket attacks near the airport are not rare, but are not usually this close.
Aman said the fighting was going on and that the gunmen had been surrounded by Afghan forces. Alarms had also sounded at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, as they usually do when there is an attack in the city. ISAF jet fighters were also patrolling over the city.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says the gunmen who captured the building have been surrounded by the police. He did not have any other immediate details.
The attack also comes after a suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 89 people in the deadliest insurgent attack on civilians since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.