More than a hundred passengers on board a Spicejet flight had a lucky escape on Thursday after suspected Taliban insurgents fired rockets into Kabul international airport.
The rocket was fired at around 12.30pm when the plane was readying for take-off. The airport was shut down briefly after which the flight departed Kabul.
“Passengers, crew and the aircraft have arrived safely in Delhi. The attack was aimed at military targets,” said a Spicejet spokesperson.
Afghan National Army soldiers gesture as a fire engine leaves a military airport gate after a rocket attack by suspected Taliban militants in Kabul. (AFP photo)
The aviation ministry is likely to hold a meeting to discuss the safety of operations to Afghanistan. Air India also operates out of Kabul.
The rockets set a hanger ablaze but no casualties were reported, officials said, in an attack that underlined security fears in the Afghan capital.
The rockets landed on the military side of the airport, which includes a large NATO base as well as a separate terminal for civilian flights to cities such as Dubai, New Delhi and Istanbul.
"Three rockets have landed inside the military garrison of Kabul airport from an undisclosed location," a statement from Kabul police said. "Part of the area where the rockets landed has caught fire."
Mohammad Yaqub Rassouli, head of the airport, said that firefighters rushed to put out the blaze in a hanger containing spare parts as military flights were halted.
He said civilian planes were not affected.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in an email message sent to AFP claimed the responsibility for the attack on the airport, which has been targeted several times in recent years.
"There is loss of life and financial losses to the airport, and several planes were torched," the Taliban said. The insurgents often exaggerate the impact of their attacks.
The strike comes a day after a Taliban suicide bomber in Kabul killed eight military officers travelling on a military bus.
The Afghan capital has been relatively peaceful since the presidential election on June 14, though there have been street demonstrations as politicians are locked in a dispute over vote fraud.
All NATO combat troops will leave Afghanistan by December, with about 10,000 US troops staying into next year if the new president signs a security deal with Washington.