US air strike blasts suicide bombers targeting Kabul airport

A US air strike has targeted a vehicle carrying “multiple suicide bombers” from the affiliate of the so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan before they could target the US military evacuation at Kabul’s international airport, officials said.

There were few initial details about the incident, as well as a rocket that struck a neighbourhood just north west of the airport, killing a child.

The two strikes initially appeared to be separate incidents, though information remained scarce.

The strike came as the US winds down a historic airlift that saw tens of thousands evacuated from Kabul’s international airport, the scene of much of the chaos that engulfed the Afghan capital since the Taliban took over two weeks ago.

After the Isis-K affiliate’s suicide attack that killed more than 180 people, the Taliban increased security around the airfield as the UK ended evacuation flights on Saturday.

US military cargo planes continued their runs into the airport on Sunday, ahead of a Tuesday deadline earlier set by President Joe Biden to withdraw all troops from America’s longest war.

However, Afghans remaining in the country worry about the Taliban reverting to their earlier oppressive rule.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid earlier said in a message to journalists that the US strike targeted a suicide bomber as he drove a vehicle loaded with explosives.

Two American military sources called the air strike successful. They said it caused “significant secondary explosions” indicating the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material in the vehicle.

The strike was the second by America since the airport suicide bombing. On Saturday, a strike in Nangarhar province killed an IS member believed to have been involved in planning attacks against the US in Kabul.

The strike killed one person, Navy Captain William Urban said.

The separate rocket attack struck Kabul’s Khuwja Bughra neighbourhood, said Rashid, a Kabul police chief who goes by one name.

Video obtained by the Associated Press after the attack showed smoke rising from a building around half a mile from the airport.