India condemns Kabul airport attack
India on Thursday condemned the terrorist attack near a gate of the Kabul airport that targeted crowds of people hoping to get on flights out of Afghanistan, saying the world needs to stand united against terror.
Russian officials said at least 13 people were killed and 15 more injured, though reports coming in from Kabul indicated the death toll could be as high as 60. US media reports said up to 10 American military personnel were among the dead.
Videos and images that emerged after the attack showed dozens of people lying prone outside the perimeter wall of the airport, currently the only way out of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover on August 15.
“India strongly condemns the bomb blasts in Kabul today. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this terrorist attack. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the injured,” the external affairs ministry said in a brief statement.
The “attacks reinforce the need for the world to stand unitedly against terrorism and all those who provide sanctuaries to terrorists”, the statement added in an apparent reference to the safe havens enjoyed by the Taliban and other terror groups in Pakistan.
A group of suicide attackers targeted the eastern gate of Kabul airport amid a massive and chaotic evacuation effort from Afghanistan, raising serious questions about the security of flights by countries such as the US and India.
The attackers, including two suicide bombers, launched their assault at a gate where crowds of Afghans had gathered to get into the airport.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. Reuters cited a source familiar with US congressional briefings as saying that American officials strongly believe the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, known as Islamic State-Khorasan, was responsible.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tweeted that an explosion at Abbey gate of Kabul airport was the “result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties”. He also confirmed another explosion “at or near the Baron Hotel”, located a short distance from Abbey gate.
Abbey gate was the entrance used by American citizens for evacuation flights. Baron Hotel, located about 300 meters from the site of the first explosion, was being used by British troops as a base for evacuating UK citizens.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a tweet in Pashto that the attack occurred in an area where US forces were responsible for security.
“The [Taliban] strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul airport, which took place in an area where US forces are responsible for security. The [Taliban] is paying close attention to the security and protection of its people, and evil circles will be strictly stopped,”