Taliban fighters struck Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan with at least three rockets overnight, the insurgent group’s spokesman said on Sunday, adding that the aim was to thwart air strikes conducted by Afghan government forces.
“Kandahar airport was targeted by us because the enemy were using it as a centre to conduct air strikes against us,” Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told Reuters.
Afghan government officials said the rocket attacks forced authorities to suspend all flights and that the runway was partially damaged. There were no immediate reports of casualties, they said. Officials said the Taliban see Kandahar as a major strategic point, which they seem to be using as a control centre for gaining complete dominance over five other provinces.
Clashes between Afghan forces and Taliban fighters have intensified in the cities of Kandahar and neighbouring Helmand province. In the west, Afghan officials said Taliban commanders were swiftly gaining control of strategic buildings around Heraat city, forcing civilians to remain in their homes.
The Taliban have been advancing in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from the country and in recent weeks the fundamentalist Islamist group said they have captured over half of all Afghanistan’s territory, including border crossings with Iran and Pakistan.
Hospital bombed in southern Afghanistan as battle rages
The owner of a private hospital in Afghanistan said the Afghan air force bombed the facility on Saturday, killing one person and injuring three others. He said the hospital was targeted because the military erroneously believed Taliban fighters were being treated there.
Dr Mohammad Din Narewal, the owner of the 20-bed Afghan Ariana Specialty Hospital, told The Associated Press that provincial government officials informed him his hospital in Lashkar Gah was targeted based on the information from the defense ministry.
“But there were no Taliban in the hospital,” said Narewal. The defense ministry did not immediately respond.
“I was told there had been a mistake because they had been given the wrong information that Taliban were inside the hospital,” he said, explaining that the Taliban were in fact receiving treatment in another hospital in the city.
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