- Associated Press - Friday, December 11, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The Islamic State group on Saturday attacked the Afghan capital with a barrage of mortar shells, killing at least one civilian and wounding a second, according to the Interior Ministry, amid a countrywide spike in violence.

The extremist group claimed responsibility on its affiliated Amaq News site, saying it fired 10 Katyusha rockets toward Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Three shells hit the airport early in the morning, slightly damaging a Kam Air aircraft. Kam Air, which provides domestic and international flights, was Afghanistan’s first privately owned airline when it began in 2003.

A window of one of the aircraft parked at the airport was damaged by a ricocheting piece of a shell, according to an airport official who didn’t want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media. No one was hurt. The aircraft was empty.

The 10 shells were fired from a vehicle parked on the northern edge of the capital, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said. Several rounds landed in residential areas of the city.



Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate has carried out similar attacks in the past, including last month when it claimed credit for firing over two dozens mortar rounds that killed eight civilians and wounded 31. It also claimed the killing earlier this week of an Afghan female journalist Malala Maiwand in eastern Nangrahar province.

The IS affiliate, known as IS in Khorasan Province, has claimed responsibility for a series of devastating attacks in Kabul in recent months including on educational institutions that killed at least 50 people, most of them students.

Violence in Afghanistan has spiked in recent months even as the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators meet in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar trying to hammer out a peace deal that could put an end to decades of war.

The Taliban have waged bitter battles against IS fighters, particularly in the IS stronghold in Nangarhar.

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Associated Press Writer Samy Magdy in Cairo and Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report

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