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Militants attack Kabul airport during Mattis visit, USA strike hits civilians

30 September 2017

United States forces in Afghanistan killed and injured civilians as they lashed out in response to a failed Taliban attack on their country's defence secretary and the head of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. One missile hit its target, while the second accidentally struck a structure, killing the one civilian and wounding several others.

A US-led military coalition spokesman said the USA forces fired two Hellfire missiles - typically mounted on attack helicopters or armed drone aircraft - at a building from which the insurgents had launched their mortar attack.

The airstrike was launched in response to a Taliban attack at or near the worldwide airport in Kabul on Wednesday.

The Taliban said that they had captured the center of Maroof district.

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But a rocket attack on Kabul airport that wounded several civilians and was claimed by both Islamic State and Taliban insurgents highlighted the insurgents' ability to strike the Western-backed government.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Kabul on Wednesday to pledge support for the government of President Ashraf Ghani, with the precarious security in the Afghan capital underlined by a rocket attack on the airport hours after he touched down.

Interior Ministry spokesman, Najib Danish, says the explosion also wounded 16 others.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have pledged their continued support to Afghanistan and vowed to do everything so the country "doesn't again become a safe haven for worldwide terrorists". "We'd still put the conflict in this kind of bounds of the stalemate where neither side really has the capability right now to kind of have a decisive victory", the official said.

Five civilians wounded in attack on Kabul airport
According to media reports , there are 11,000 USA troops in Afghanistan operating under the auspices of the RS and the Pentagon. The ministry also informed that the fighters had holed up in a nearby building during a confrontation with the Afghan forces.

The strategy will give USA commanders greater freedom to use American firepower against the militants but, speaking a few hours before the air strike, Mattis said they would do "everything humanly possible" to prevent civilian casualties.

The budget carrier operates five flights every week to Kabul.

Both pledged continued support for the government so the country "doesn't again become a safe haven for global terrorists".

He also said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was committed to funding the Afghan security forces until at least 2020, and would continue to provide them nearly $1 billion (£743 million) each year.

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The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"I don't want to tell the enemy exactly what we are doing but the whole point is to make certain we have a compelling battlefield advantage over anything the Taliban tries to mass against your forces", he said.

The deadly attack on the government and police headquarters in Maroof district was claimed by the Taliban.

Farid Bakhtawar, the head of the provincial council, confirmed the killing of the policemen and warned they would be overrun if reinforcements do not arrive soon.

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Militants attack Kabul airport during Mattis visit, USA strike hits civilians