Afghan authorities said on Sunday they had installed an anti-missile system at Kabul airport to counter incoming rockets, as the Taliban continued a lightning offensive across the country.
Washington and its allies are due to end their military mission in Afghanistan at the end of August, even as insurgents say they now control 85% of the country – a claim that could not be verified. independent and is contested by the government.
The Islamic fundamentalist group’s rapid gains in recent weeks have raised fears for the security of the capital and its airport, with NATO keen to ensure a vital exit route to the outside world for foreign diplomats and aid workers.
“The newly installed air defense system has been operational in Kabul since Sunday at 2:00 am,” the interior ministry said in a statement. “The system has proven to be useful around the world in repelling rocket and missile attacks.”
ministry spokesperson Tariq Ariane Recount AFP he had been installed at the airport, while the spokesperson for the security forces Ajmal Omar Shinwari said the system was donated by “our foreign friends”.
“He has very complicated technology. For now, our foreign friends are exploiting it while we try to build the capacity to use it, ”Shinwari said, adding that over the past week 1,177 Taliban fighters have been killed in fighting with government forces.
The Taliban have regularly launched rockets and mortars at government forces across the countryside, with the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group carrying out similar strikes on the capital in 2020.
IS has also claimed responsibility for a rocket attack this year on Bagram Air Base, the country’s largest US military installation, which was recently handed over to Afghan forces.
“No organized capacity”
Over the years, the U.S. military has installed multiple C-RAMs (counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar systems) at its bases, including Bagram, to destroy incoming rockets targeting the facilities, one said. responsible for foreign security and the media.
C-RAMS includes cameras to detect incoming rockets and alert local forces.
“The Taliban have no organized capability but have demonstrated that they can fire modified rockets from vehicles and create panic, especially if they target an airport,” said a foreign security official.
Turkey has pledged to ensure the security of Kabul airport once US and NATO troops leave next month.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that Turkey and the United States had agreed on the “scope” of the management of the airport under the control of Turkish forces.
Taliban militants have led a rapid offensive across the country, but mainly in the northern and western provinces, since early May, when the last US troops began to leave Afghanistan.
India on Sunday became the latest country to evacuate diplomats as the security situation deteriorates.
His foreign ministry said staff had been temporarily withdrawn from its consulate in southern Kandahar, where the Taliban are fighting with Afghan forces on the outskirts of the city.
A security source added that around 50 Indian personnel, including around six diplomats, were repatriated.
Last week, Russia announced the closure of its consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, while China also evacuated 210 nationals from the country.
“Space for terrorists”
After Kabul called on militiamen across the country to help counter the attacks, Afghan security spokesman Shinwari urged young Afghans to join the armed forces on Sunday, saying authorities had facilitated procedures for recruitment.
However, Pakistan’s envoy to Kabul called on the international community to help bolster Afghan security forces, warning that the deployment of militias to fight the Taliban could worsen the situation in the violence-ravaged country and benefit jihadist groups. .
“If the situation continues to worsen and deteriorate in Afghanistan, of course there will be security challenges inside Afghanistan,” Mansour Ahmad Khan Recount AFP Saturday, saying it could give “space” to groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda.
The Afghan government has repeatedly dismissed the Taliban’s gains as having little strategic value, but the seizure of several border crossings and the taxes they generate will likely fill the group’s coffers with new revenue.
Insurgents have routed much of northern Afghanistan in recent weeks, and the government has little more than a constellation of provincial capitals that need to be largely reinforced and resupplied by air.
Kabul, meanwhile, urged European countries to halt “forced” deportations of Afghan migrants for the next three months given the wave of violence, and the United Nations said the escalation of the conflict was causing “more suffering ”to the people.