The Taliban staged an attack on Kabul International Airport, which began around 4:30 a.m. Thursday and lasted for nearly five hours before security forces halted the attack, reports said.
The four militants involved in the attack were killed while one security official was wounded, BBC reported, and cited Mohammad Ayub Salangi, the country's deputy interior minister, as saying that the area was "completely cleared," adding that the "last insurgent has just blown himself up." Earlier reports had noted that the insurgents had seized a building under construction at the airport using a car bomb and were armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.
“A number of our mujahedeen armed with heavy and light weapons have launched an attack on Kabul International Airport,” Taliban spokesman Zabiuhallah Mujahid said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.
The attack on the airport by the Taliban, which is determined to disrupt the presidential election process, follows the announcement of a massive audit of votes cast in last month's presidential run-off election, after a dispute over the results arose between presidential contenders Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which is based out of a facility next to Kabul's civilian airport where the attack took place, provides air transport to 40 percent of the votes to be audited, reports said.
The audit was announced following a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry between the two candidates, and each of the 8.1 million votes cast during the election will be checked for signs of fraud. Officials expect the results of the audit, which both candidates have promised to abide by after weeks of bitter dispute, will be reportedly announced in about three weeks.
Civilian flights from the airport north of Kabul were suspended, with aircraft being diverted to other airports, reports said citing Afghan airport officials.
Eyewitness Ramin Anwari told the BBC that neighbors were woken by the sound of fighting. "I could hear more than 10 explosions, some really heavy, in a matter of some minutes coming from the area across the airport."
The latest Taliban offensive comes after a massive suicide bombing on Tuesday at a busy market killed at least 42 people in the country's southeastern Paktika province.