Taliban storm Kandahar airport complex, clashes underway


Explosions and gunfire rang out as Taliban militants stormed the airport complex in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Tuesday, officials said, with fighting still ongoing.

“The insurgents managed to breach the first gate of the complex,” Samim Khpalwak, a spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, told AFP, adding that there was no immediate information on casualties.

The sprawling Kandahar Air Field has both a military and a civilian section.

Khopalwaq says the attackers managed to enter the air base where they encountered heavy resistance.

“They have taken up position in a school inside the complex,” Mohammad Mohsin Sultani, the military spokesman in Kandahar, said the exact number of attackers was unclear and Afghan troops were engaged in a heavy gunfight with them.

The Taliban are strong in southern Afghanistan, where the majority of people are Pakhtuns.

Earlier in November, Taliban claimed responsibility of the deadly suicide attack that killed six people, including one soldier, in Kandahar.

In October, Taliban fighters on motorbikes had carried out hit-and-run attacks on Afghan forces trying to clear Kunduz city of insurgents, more than a week after the militant movement briefly seized the provincial capital.

Afghan forces, hindered by the slow arrival of reinforcements but backed by limited United States (US) air support, struggled to regain control of the city after three days of heavy fighting.

The Taliban stepped up attacks during a summer offensive launched in late April against the Western-backed government in Kabul.

After years of costly involvement, most Nato troops pulled back from the front lines by the end of 2014, although a residual force of around 13,000 remains for training and counter-terrorism operations.