Both the Taliban and Islamic State group claimed responsibility for multiple small rocket attacks on Kabul Airport Wednesday just hours after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis landed there for a surprise visit to Afghanistan.
According to news reports, several dozen rockets landed around the Kabul International Airport after Mattis and NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg had landed and departed on helicopters for meetings with Afghan officials.
The attackers also detonated suicide vests, endangering the lives of civilians, according to a press release from Resolute Support.
Backed by U.S. air support, Afghan forces responded quickly to the attack . However, a malfunctioning missile from a U.S. airstrike caused several casualties, according to the press release.
ISIS’ main media outlet Amaq claimed responsibility for the attack by posting a brief video clip allegedly showing its militants firing an SPG-9 recoilless rifle at the airport.
Mattis and Stoltenberg were in Kabul to discuss the new security strategy for Afghanistan. Mattis recently confirmed that the new approach will include deploying more than 3,000 additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan to join the 11,000 there now, to add pressure to the Taliban and other militant groups.
In a joint press conference in Kabul, Mattis addressed the attack, calling it an attack on innocent people that will ultimately be suffocated.
“An attack on an international airport anywhere in the world is a criminal act by terrorists,” Mattis said.
An investigation into the attack and the missile malfunction is underway, according to U.S. officials in Kabul.
“Resolute Support deeply regrets the harm to non-combatants,” the press release reads.