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Taliban Tries To Kill Mattis During Surprise Afghanistan Visit

REUTERS/Baz Ratner
An Afghan national army soldier fires a rocket-propelled grenade during a firefight between Taliban fighters and Afghan and U.S. soldiers from Alpha company, 2nd battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment from Combat Outpost Pirtle King in Kunar province, Afghanistan, July 18, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
THOMAS PHIPPEN
Reporter

The Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on Kabul International Airport Wednesday morning targeting Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who was making an unscheduled visit to Afghanistan.

Mattis had left the airport by the time the attack started, NBC News reports, and no casualties have been reported.

The airport said two missiles were fired toward the airport at around 11:00 a.m. local time, and the U.S. embassy warns that the attack may still be ongoing.

“At 11.36 am two missiles were fired on Kabul International Airport from Deh Sabz district, damaging the air force hangers and destroying one helicopter and damaging three other helicopters, but there were no casualties,” airport chief Yaqub Rassouli said according to USA Today.

While ISIS also claimed responsibility for the attack, that doesn’t necessarily mean the group had any involvement in carrying it out.

“We fired six rockets and planned to hit the plane of U.S. secretary of defense and other U.S. and NATO military officials,” one Taliban commander told NBC News. “We were told by our insiders that some losses were caused to their installations but we are not sure about James Mattis.”

NBC spoke with two unidentified Taliban commanders, who claimed sources in Afghanistan’s security apparatus tipped them off to Mattis’s visit.

Mattis was holding a press conference away from the airport at the time of the attack, and told reporters that Afghan forces would strongly oppose the action.

“If in fact there was an attack … his is a classic statement to what Taliban are up to,” Mattis said. “If in fact this is what they have done, they will find Afghan security forces against them.”

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