Rockets land nearby as Afghan leader offers Eid al-Adha prayers in presidential palace in Kabul
Kabul, Afghanistan — At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace on Tuesday shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. There were no injuries and the rockets landed outside the heavily fortified palace grounds, said Mirwais Stanikzai, spokesman for the interior minister.
The ISIS branch in Afghanistan took responsibility for the rocket attack, claiming it had launched seven rockets and that all had struck their targets. The group often greatly exaggerates its success both on the battlefield and with bomb and rocket attacks.
Police quickly fanned out across the area after the rockets struck. One car parked on a nearby street was completely destroyed, and police said it was used as launching pad for the rockets.
The palace is in the middle of a so-called Green Zone that is fortified with giant cement blast walls and barbed wire, and streets near the palace have long been closed off.
President Ashraf Ghani was on the palace grounds on Tuesday, attending an Eid al-Adha prayer service with a number of other dignitaries that was broadcast on Afghan national television.
Several members of the group jump when the first rocket is heard slamming into the ground outside the compound, but most of the men continue praying as the next two bangs are heard.
The barrage came as the U.S. and NATO complete their final withdrawal from
The withdrawal is more than 95% complete and the final U.S. soldier will be gone by August 31, President Joe Biden said in an address earlier this month.
“This Eid has been named after Afghan forces to honor their sacrifices and courage, especially in the last three months,” Ghani said in his address to the nation following morning prayers for Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice.”
“The Taliban have no intention and willingness for peace” Ghani said. “We have proven that we have the intention, the willingness and have sacrificed for peace.”
However, Afghan forces have complained about being left without reinforcements and supplies, often running low on food as the Taliban advanced. In many instances, Afghan troops surrendered rather than fight.
Washington’s watchdog monitoring U.S. spending in Afghanistan reported that troops are deeply demoralized and corruption is rampant. After their pullout, the U.S. and NATO are committed to spending $4 billion annually on Afghan forces until 2024, the majority of that money coming from Washington.
id al-Adha is the most important Islamic holiday, marking the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim — Abraham to Christians and Jews — to sacrifice his son. During the holiday, which in most places lasts four days, Muslims slaughter sheep or cattle and distribute part of the meat to the poor.