KANDAHAR (AFP) – At least three rockets struck Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan overnight, an official told AFP on Sunday (Aug 1), as the Taleban pressed on with their sweeping offensive across the country.
“Last night, three rockets were fired at the airport and two of them hit the runway… Due to this, all flights from the airport have been cancelled,” airport chief Massoud Pashtun told AFP.
Mr Pashtun said work to repair the runway was under way and expected the airport to be operational later on Sunday.
An official at the civil aviation authority in Kabul confirmed the rocket attack.
The Taleban have, for weeks, launched withering assaults on the outskirts of Kandahar, stirring fears that the insurgents were on the verge of capturing the provincial capital.
Kandahar’s air base is vital to providing the logistics and air support needed to keep the militants from overrunning Afghanistan’s second-biggest city.
The attack on the airport came as the Taleban inched closer to overrunning two other provincial capitals – Herat in the west and Lashkar Gah in the south.
The Taleban’s significant territorial gains during the final stages of the US military withdrawal have largely been in sparsely populated rural areas.
But in recent weeks, they have brought increasing pressure on several provincial capitals and seized key border crossings.
The capture of any major urban centre would take their current offensive to another level and fuel concerns that the army is incapable of resisting the Taleban’s battlefield gains.
The government has repeatedly dismissed the Taleban’s steady territorial gains over the summer as lacking strategic value.