According to the Pentagon and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health, 13 US service members and at least 90 Afghans have been killed in two bombing attacks outside Kabul’s airport. Thus the total count as of now is 103.
A suicide bomb attack at the airport’s Abbey Gate was followed by an assault by gunmen, officials said. Another bomb attack took place nearby, at a hotel outside the airport, officials said. Eighteen U.S. service members were injured in addition to 13 dead, the Pentagon said.
The row between Afghanistan and the Taliban was rising for the past few months and as a result, the Taliban acquired the provinces of Afghanistan.
The attack marked the deadliest day for the U.S. military in Afghanistan since 2011 and came just five days before the Biden administration’s deadline for the complete military withdrawal from the country.
US President Joe Biden, speaking from the White House, called the troops “heroes” and said he was “outraged as well as heartbroken.” The blasts came hours after Western officials warned of a major attack, urging people to leave the airport.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the killings on its Amaq news channel. The IS affiliate in Afghanistan is far more radical than the Taliban, who recently took control of the country in a lightning blitz. The Taliban were not believed to have been involved in the attacks and condemned the blasts. Violence by ISIS is a challenge for the Taliban, who have promised Afghans they will bring peace to the country they swiftly conquered.
Two explosions occurred and the Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said earlier that one of the explosions happened “at the airport’s Abbey Gate” and “at least one other explosion happened at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”
Thousands of Afghans have been gathering at the airport’s gates in recent days in hopes of being evacuated. Footage posted to social media on Thursday after the explosions showed struggling scenes of crowds of people trying to help the wounded amid bodies on the ground. Photos showed apparently injured people being transported away from the scene in wheelbarrows.
The US Embassy in Kabul said US citizens who were at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate of the airport “should leave immediately” in the wake of the blast.