KABUL: Taliban militants on Monday launched a grenade and gun attack on Kabul airport, seizing two nearby buildings and firing on military facilities before being overwhelmed by Afghan security forces.
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up and all five other attackers were killed in fighting as elite Afghan troops stormed the half-built properties where the militants had holed up.
Loud explosions and sporadic bursts of small-arms fire erupted for at least four hours after the attack woke up residents of the Afghan capital at about 4:30 a.m. (12 p.m. Manila time).
“There were seven assailants—two [suicide bombers]died detonating themselves and five others were killed in fighting,” Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayoub Salangi told reporters.
“There have not been any casualties to the security forces, and we have not received any report of civilian casualties so far.”
Officials immediately hailed the security forces’ response, with Adela Raz, a spokeswomen for President Hamid Karzai, praising their “bravery and courage” on her Twitter feed.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) coalition said that some international forces were involved in the operation against the militants, but that Kabul’s increasingly professional quick-response units were in the lead.
Three suicide vests were found at the scene where the insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns to fend off Afghan forces and attack the airport on the northeast side of Kabul.
No damage was reported inside the heavily guarded airport, which has both a civilian and military terminal and contains a large base for the US-led NATO coalition.
The militants did not manage to breach the airport complex but all flights were cancelled or re-routed for several hours.
A Taliban spokesman said the insurgent group was responsible for the attack, adding that a large number of foreign and Afghan soldiers had been killed—a claim dismissed by Afghanistan and NATO.
Kabul last came under attack on May 24, when Taliban militants launched a coordinated suicide and gun attack on a compound of the International Organization for Migration.