Taliban rockets hit Kandahar airport, flights suspended

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Taliban spokesperson says attack aimed at thwarting air strikes conducted by Afghan govt forces
KABUL
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, the officials said.
Clashes Intensify in Herat
The government deployed more security forces to the western city of Herat on Sunday a day after the Taliban advanced closer to the central parts of the city.
Local officials said that the clashes intensified in villages in the western parts of Herat city.
Abdul Rahman Rahman, senior deputy of the Interior Ministry, also visited Herat city on Sunday and said that a large-scale operation will be launched against the Taliban in Herat.
“We have come with the security forces from Kabul and these forces have joined Herat forces. We will act as soon as possible to defend the Herat people,” he said.
The clashes have been ongoing in the western parts of Herat city and Guzara and Karokh districts over the past four days.
At least 20 people were killed, including 16 security force members, and 90 people were wounded in the past four days of fighting in Herat, according to data from Herat’s regional hospital.
Local officials said that “the Taliban has suffered heavy casualties during the clashes.”
Reporters for Pajhwok news agency and Salam Watandar Radio were briefly taken captive by the Taliban on the battlefield but none were injured, according to the reporters.
“We had a 10-meter distance from the security forces,” said Storai Karimi, a Pajhwok reporter, “we were surrounded by the Taliban.”
Shekib Shams, reporter of Salam Watandar also said: “It was terrible because a few bullets hit our car. When I stopped the car, I saw that four Taliban had surrounded us and told us to take the car into the road.”
The reporters said that they were freed after an hour.
Security sources said the Taliban advanced this morning in Herat city, adding that “the Taliban launched large attacks on several villages in the west of Herat city and clashes are still ongoing.”
“There are clashes in Pul-e-Malan on the battlefield and the Taliban were prevented from advancing. Sometimes troops move forward and then retreat but it does not mean that the lines were broken,” said Abdul Saboor Qane, provincial governor.
Colonel Mohammad Nasir Alizai, commander of a commando unit from Zafar 207 Military Corps, said: “The Taliban’s war is a psychological war, and it wants to cause panic among the people. I urge the people of Herat not to lose their spirit.”
This comes a day after Mohammad Ismail Khan, former mujahedeen leader and a senior member of Jamiat-e-Islami who is leading the fight against the Taliban in Herat along with scores of public resistance forces, criticized the Ministry of Defense for delays in sending reinforcements to Herat.
Clashes in the city of Herat began their fourth day on Sunday. Clashes are underway in the southern part of Herat near Malan Bridge, which was taken over by the Taliban on Saturday.