Pentagon and NATO Leaders, Visiting Kabul, Are Met by Insurgent Rocket Barrage

“There has been an attack, our special forces are dealing with it,” Mr. Ghani said at a news conference. “This attacking civilian targets is a sign of weakness, not strength.”

Mr. Mattis, speaking at the same news conference, said: “An attack on an international airport, anywhere in the world, is a criminal act by terrorists. It is a classic example of what the Taliban are up to right now.”

After the rocket strikes, Afghan helicopters circled the capital’s diplomatic quarters and the airport for hours. Gen. Salem Almas, the head of criminal investigations for the Kabul police, said Afghan forces had started an operation in the area where the rockets were fired.

He did not provide details on the number of rockets, which were most likely rocket-propelled grenades, but officials at the airport said that many had landed, and that assailants had entered a house behind the airport.

The operation to clear the house lasted about six hours. Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said all of the three attackers in the house were killed.

Mr. Danish said one civilian had also been killed and 11 wounded. Two houses were damaged in the attack on the airport and during government’s response, he said.

American helicopter gunships operating in support of the Afghan special forces caused several civilian casualties when “one of the missiles malfunctioned,” the United States military command said in a statement. It was not clear precisely what the errant missile had struck.

A senior Afghan security official said the assailants had stockpiled so much heavy weaponry in the house behind the airport that a standard clearance operation was impossible and helicopters targeted the area.

One Western official said the insurgent rockets had ignited part of an American weapons depot at a military camp, causing secondary explosions. The airport remained closed to domestic and…

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