Afghanistan's Kabul Airport Under Attack

July 17--A rapid response force had been sent to Kabul International Airport after an explosion followed by bursts of gunfire were heard near the facility in the Afghan capital.

Smoke was seen rising above the airport, which is used by civilians and the military. A car had also been set on fire not far from the scene.

A police source said a number of fighters had burst into a building just north of the airport and opened fire.

"Afghan security forces are dealing with it. More information will be released as soon as we get it," said the

source, who asked not to be identified.

Jennifer Glasse, Al jazeera's correspondent in Kabul, said: "We've heard at least two dozen explosions and a lot of gunfire. Fighter jets are circling the airport.

"There's a civilian side and a military side to the airport that houses Afghan security forces and NATO forces, the attack it seems to be targeting that side.

"This attack calls security into question. If this many fighters can get into such a secure facility, and a secure area of the airport, it raises questions as to how so many can get through a heavily fortified building.

"There are high rise buildings being built around the airport and that seems to be what has made the airport vulnerable."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Planes diverted

NATO forces said they were aware of reports of an attack on the airport but could not give more details.

A Kabul airport official told the Reuters news agency all flights had been diverted to other cities.

In such circumstances, passenger planes are immediately diverted to other Afghan cities such as Mazar-i-Sharif in the north or Herat in the west.

The attack on the airport comes at a time of great uncertainty for Afghanistan as votes from the second round of a disputed presidential election are to be recounted.

The poll is meant to mark Afghanistan's first democratic transfer of power.


Al Jazeera and agencies



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