51 dead, 35 injured in Kandahar airport assault
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): More than 50 people, including 14 Taliban attackers, were killed after the insurgents stormed the airport in southern Kandahar province in a brazen attack that lasted 20 hours, officials said on Wednesday.
Another 35 people were injured during the attack that began late on Tuesday when Taliban gunmen laced with hand grenades, light and heavy weapons managed to enter the airport complex through the main entrance.
The attackers took positions in three locations --- a school, a servant quarters and the bazaar --- between the civil terminal and the 205 Atal Military Corps headquarters, engaging security forces.
Gen. Daud Shah Wafadar, the 205 Atal Military Corps commander, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Wednesday afternoon at the airport that the attack began after 6pm on Tuesday.
He said there were about 14 attackers laced with light and heavy weapons and hand grenades and they were dressed in civilian clothes when they entered the airport.
He said the attackers were holed up in two buildings and some were hiding in the bazaar.
The clash came to an end after 20 hours with the killing of 14 attackers, he said, adding one Afghan army soldier was killed and another two were wounded.
Nine civilians were killed and as many were wounded including women and children, Wafadar said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence in a statement said 37 people were killed and 35 others, mostly civilians, were wounded during the incident.
A source at the military hospital at the airport told Pajhwok Afghan News 40 people had been killed and another 35 injured in the attack including women and children.
About 15 vehicles of civilians parked in the nearby bazaar and 10 shops were damaged during the firefight.
Saifullah, a shopkeeper in the airport bazaar, said he lost his brother and his son to the attack.
As he left for an important work for the main city at 5pm yesterday, his brother called him an hour later and said a fierce clash had broken out in the bazaar, Saifullah said.
“My brother and his son were hiding in their shop, but the attackers lobbed hand grenades into the shop that caught fire in which they lost their lives.”
Nazar Gul, another resident, said the attack inflicted most of casualties on shopkeepers in the bazaar.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack that local residents said raised questions how such a large number of militants with heavy weapons could enter the airport keeping in view the scale of security measures around the facility.
Gen. Wafadar said the attackers wanted to kill him as well, but they encountered heavy resistance from security forces.
He called the attack an intelligence failure, saying an investigation to determine how the attackers entered the airport in civilian clothes would be launched.
The Taliban said the attack left dozens of security forces dead and wounded.
President Ashraf Ghani, who was in Pakistan when the attack unfolded, condemned the assault in a statement issued from his office in Kabul.
The president praised the Afghan security forces for their quick and effective response to the attack and extended condolences to families of the victims.
He said the Afghan forces, who had responded to previous such attacks with heroism, were ready to defend the motherland and the people at the cost of their blood.
Pakistan also strongly condemned the attack on the Kandahar Airport. A statement from the office of the spokesperson said the people and the government of Pakistan strongly condemned the deadly terrorist attack on Kandahar airport that has resulted in the loss of precious lives and injuries to many people.
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