The US military confirmed two large explosions Thursday outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, where the United States and other countries have been evacuating tens of thousands of people.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said there were “a number” of US and civilian casualties in the bombings, which came just hours after western officials said they had intelligence that suicide bombings were planned against the airport.Volume 90%
“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties,” Kirby said in a tweeted statement.
“We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate,” he said.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=Arab_News&creatorUserId=69172612&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-13&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1430907314043719683&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.arabnews.com%2Fnode%2F1917686%2Fworld&sessionId=a9fe4c5c1f81d2d3f800570c14f003db74b31870&siteScreenName=Arab_News&siteUserId=69172612&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1890d59c%3A1627936082797&width=600px
A surgical hospital run by an Italian charity said it was treating more than 60 wounded, with at least six people reported as being killed in the attack.
US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the explosion, according to a White House official. Biden was in a meeting with security officials about the situation in Afghanistan when the explosion was first reported, according to a person familiar with the matter.
One of the explosions happened at the airport’s main Abbey Gate, where thousands of people have massed over the past 12 days hoping to be evacuated after the militants seized power, and an unconfirmed death toll of 13 people including children was given by a Taliban official.
Other reports located the second explosion close to the Baron Hotel near the gate, which Western nations had used to stage some evacuations.
An AFP journalist in Kabul saw a plume of smoke rising into the sky from a site near the airport.
“When people heard the explosion there was total panic. The Taliban then started firing in the air to disperse the crowd at the gate,” a witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“I saw a man rushing with an injured baby in his hands,” he added.
US and allied officials have said they had intelligence that suicide bombers tied to the Afghan arm of Daesh — the so-called Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) — were threatening to attack the airport ahead of Washington’s August 31 deadline to finalize the evacuation.
The Taliban, whose fighters are guarding the perimeter outside the airport, are enemies of the affiliate.
“Our guards are also risking their lives at Kabul airport, they face a threat too from the Islamic State group,” said a Taliban official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and before the reports of the explosion.
Early Thursday Kabul time Western nations warned their citizens to immediately leave the surrounds of the airport over a terrorist threat, as thousands of people tried to reach a dwindling number of evacuation flights.
“Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” said the US State Department.
Britain’s defense ministry said it was working urgently to establish what had happened at the airport following the reports of an explosion.
“We are working urgently to establish what has happened in Kabul and its impact on the ongoing evacuation effort,” the defense ministry said on Twitter.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=Arab_News&creatorUserId=69172612&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-14&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1430894247696166922&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.arabnews.com%2Fnode%2F1917686%2Fworld&sessionId=a9fe4c5c1f81d2d3f800570c14f003db74b31870&siteScreenName=Arab_News&siteUserId=69172612&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1890d59c%3A1627936082797&width=600px
“Our primary concern remains the safety of our personnel, British citizens and the citizens of Afghanistan. We are in close contact with our US and other NATO allies at an operational level on the immediate response to this incident.”
Over the last week, the airport has been the scene of some of the most searing images of the chaotic end of America’s longest war and the Taliban’s takeover, as flight after flight took off carrying those who fear a return to the militants’ brutal rule.
Britain’s armed forces minister James Heappey said Thursday a terrorist threat against the airport was “imminent.”
“Reporting over the week has become ever more credible. And it is of an imminent and severe threat to life,” Heappey said.
Most member nations of the US-led coalition said Thursday they had wound up or would soon end their own evacuation flights from Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The total number of people who have been taken out of the US-controlled hub since the international airlift began on August 14 hit 95,700 Thursday, including both Afghans and foreign nationals.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the United States would stick to its deadline of withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan by August 31, to end the two-decade US-led war there.
A spokesman for the Taliban, which seized Kabul on August 15 to cap a lightning campaign against government forces, said Tuesday the evacuation operation had to end on August 31.
Source: Arab News