A loud blast was heard in the Afghan capital Kabul Sunday by Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalists, hours after United States officials warned of the possibility of a terrorist attack.
A security official from the recently deposed government told AFP it was a rocket that "initial information shows hit a house."
According to The Associated Press (AP) the rocket struck a neighborhood just northwest of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport as the U.S. evacuation there winds down following the Taliban's lightning takeover of the country, killing a child, an Afghan police chief said.
Fears over another terror attack on Kabul were mounting across Afghanistan. Recent Daesh-affiliated suicide bombings outside the airport killed over 180 people, including 13 American soldiers.
Earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden warned that another attack was highly likely before evacuations concluded. The Pentagon said Saturday that retaliatory drone strikes had killed two "high-level" Daesh terrorists in eastern Afghanistan, but Biden warned of more attacks from the group.
"The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high," Biden said. "Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours."
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul later released an alert warning of credible threats at specific areas of the airport, including access gates. In recent years, Daesh's Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks in those countries. They have massacred civilians at mosques, public squares, schools and even hospitals.
The Daesh attack has forced the U.S. military and the Taliban into a form of cooperation to ensure security at the airport that was unthinkable only two weeks ago. On Saturday, Taliban fighters escorted a steady stream of Afghans from buses to the main passenger terminal, handing them over to U.S. forces for evacuation.
The troops were seen throughout the civilian side of the airport grounds and annex buildings, while U.S. Marines peered at them from the passenger terminal roof. After a 20-year war, the foes were within open sight of each other, separated by just 30 meters (100 feet). Also in view of the U.S. troops were the Taliban's "Badri" special forces in American Humvees gifted to the now-vanquished Afghan army.
Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi tweeted that the group's fighters had already moved into parts of the military side of the airport, but the Pentagon stressed that U.S. forces retained control over the gates and the airlift. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said U.S. troops had started withdrawing – without saying how many were left.
More than 112,000 people have fled Afghanistan via the massive U.S.-led evacuation since the Taliban swept back into power two weeks ago, and the operation is winding down despite Western powers saying thousands may be left behind.
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