Kabul airport attack: Two Afghan civilians and seven Taliban killed as heavily-armed insurgents launch pre-dawn raid on Nato airport HQ

At least seven attackers using rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and at least one large bomb were killed

Two Afghan civilians have been killed after a number of heavily armed Taliban insurgents launched an attack close to Afghanistan's main airport.

At least seven of the attackers were killed during the pre-dawn raid, which targeted Nato's airport headquarters using rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and at least one large bomb.

It was the third time in a month that insurgents have launched a major attack in the Afghan capital, seeking high-profile targets to rattle public confidence as Afghan security forces take over most responsibility for protecting the country ahead of most foreign troops' withdrawal next year.

The airport itself was not damaged and reopened shortly after the fighting was over, said Kabul airport chief Yaqub Rassuli, who added: "There was no damage to the runway. Some shrapnel fell nearby, but we have cleared it away".

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said two Afghan civilians were wounded, but there were no deaths among either security forces or civilians.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the insurgents were targeting Nato headquarters next to the civilian airport. The international military coalition said it was assessing the situation and had no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The attack began with an loud blast just as Kabul's residents had finished morning prayers at around 4.30am.

Police said that attackers wearing suicide vests occupied one or two buildings under construction on the west side of the airport and were firing at the military facility, which was quite a distance away. It was unclear whether they hit anything inside the Nato facility.

"It first started with a big explosion which we think was a suicide attack. After that a gunbattle started," said Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai during the fighting. He added that at least five insurgents then occupied two buildings, located in a single compound, and started firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

"Sometimes they are shooting from one building, sometimes from other. It is a residential area and the compound has been surrounded by Afghan security forces. The security forces surrounded the buildings and are being careful because it is a residential area," he added.

Deputy Kabul police chief Dawood Amin says there were seven attackers in total. Two blew themselves up with suicide vests at the start of the assault and five were shot and killed by police during the battle.

The Taliban have launched intense attacks across the country, testing Afghan security forces as foreign combat troops pull back more than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban regime for sheltering al-Qa'ida's leadership after the Islamic extremist group launched the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

The last big attack in Kabul was May 24, when six suicide bombers attacked a guest house belonging to the United Nations-affiliated International Organisation for Migration, killing three people — including a police officer, a guard and a civilian. On May 16, a suicide bomber had rammed a car into a Nato convoy killing 15 people, including two American soldiers and four civilian contractors.

The US-led Nato coalition's Joint Command headquarters at the airport runs the day-to-day operations of the nearly 12-year-old war against insurgents. The airport's military side is also used for NATO transport and other aircraft.

"It started just after dawn prayers and I counted about a dozen explosions, mostly RPG fire, coming from the airport," said Emayatullah, who lives next to the airport. Like many Afghans he uses only one name.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea