Rockets struck near Kabul’s presidential palace and international airport today on the 11th anniversary of the Taliban withdrawal from the Afghan capital, killing one and wounding three, police said.

The hardline Islamists, ousted by US-led forces following the 9/11 attacks on the United States, claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Mujahideen (holy warriors) targeted the presidential palace and Kabul airport with rockets this morning,” the Taliban said on their Web site.

Police said four rockets were fired from a vineyard northeast of Kabul, with two landing “near” Kabul international airport without causing any casualties.

Airport sources said one of the rockets exploded in a car park at the airport and another landed near a police checkpost where passengers are searched but failed to detonate.

A third rocket hit the compound of the privately run Shamshad TV station without causing casualties.

“But unfortunately, the fourth one landed in District 9 (near the presidential palace) and hit a car, wounding three civilians and killing one,” Kabul police said in a statement.

The rockets had been rigged to fire from improvised launchers when triggered by mobile phones and a fifth was discovered and disarmed before it was launched, the statement said.

Since being driven from power, the Taliban have waged an increasingly bloody insurgency against the government of President Hamid Karzai, which is backed by more than 100,000 NATO troops.

Rocket attacks on the capital are relatively rare — and notoriously inaccurate — but Kabul has been hit by a series of deadly suicide and commando-style insurgent attacks this year.

Among the major attacks, explosions and gunfire rocked the city on April 15 as squads of Taliban suicide attackers struck across Afghanistan. At least 51 people were killed in the attacks, 36 of them insurgents.

On June 22, Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rockets attacked a hotel near Kabul, seizing dozens of hostages and killing at least 18 people.

Spectacular attacks such as these are usually blamed on the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction seen as one of the greatest threats to Western forces in Afghanistan.

Washington designated the Haqqanis a “Foreign Terrorist Organisation” in September, a move that made it a crime in the United States to provide them with material support and froze their property or interests in the US.

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council added the group to its Afghanistan-Taliban sanctions list, ordering nations to freeze Haqqani assets and enforce an arms embargo.

US and NATO combat troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and there are widespread fears that a new multi-faction civil war could break out after their departure.

(This article was published on November 13, 2012)
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