PNN – Secretary of Defense James Mattis was the target of an attack on Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Wednesday. The attackers primarily used rocket-propelled grenades to assault the airport, firing a total of 29, with an additional 11 munitions being used that have yet to be identified. The fire was concentrated onto a guard tower and the southern side of the airport. Following the attack, the Taliban took credit via Twitter on the account of their spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid. They further specified that Secretary Mattis was their intended target. Mattis had already left the airport before the attack began. There have been no reported casualties so far and the full extent of the damage to Hamid Karzai International is currently unknown. Five people have been reported as injured, with one said to be in poor condition.

The Afghan special forces searched homes near the airport that were suspected to be the source of the volley. Three suspects were found and killed in a subsequent firefight. The men were armed with AK-47s and RPGs. A fourth suspect was wounded.

Secretary Mattis visited Afghanistan unannounced following a short stay in India. It seems as though he learned of the attack from the press after the fact. During a press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Mattis condemned the attack as terrorism, and said that the Taliban “will find the Afghan Security Forces continuing on the offensive against them in every district of the country right now.”

This marks Mattis’ first visit to Afghanistan following President Donald Trump’s August announcement of his new strategy in the region, which included an influx of up to several thousand new troops, though the Trump administration has declined to offer any exact figures. This is in addition to the 8,400 US troops currently stationed in Afghanistan. President Trump has also rescinded Obama-era policies concerning the scope and nature of military operations in Afghanistan, giving military commanders the authority to act in real time, as well as allowing them more freedom to target known criminal and terrorist organizations.

Banner image courtesy of the White House.