28 Taliban fighters killed in IS attack on Kabul airport. Latest updates
The Taliban said there was no reason to extend the August 31 deadline for foreign forces to leave the country after the deadly attacks on the Kabul airport.
Two suicide bombers and gunmen of the Islamic State group's affiliate in Afghanistan attacked Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport on Thursday, killing at least 60 Afghans and 13 US troops. The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) said in its claim of responsibility that one of its suicide bombers targeted "translators and collaborators with the American army".
The ISKP's statement carried a photo of what the militant group said was the bomber who carried out the attack. The image shows the alleged attacker standing with the explosive belt in front of the black IS flag with a black cloth covering his face, only his eyes showing.
Here are the latest updates after the deadly Kabul airport attack:
1. A Taliban official told Reuters on Friday that at least 28 members of the hardline Islamist group were among the people killed in explosions overnight outside the airport in Kabul. "We have lost more people than the Americans," the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters. He said there was no reason to extend the August 31 deadline for foreign forces to leave the country.
2. The evacuation of civilians from Kabul has been accelerated after overnight attacks near the airport, a Western security official stationed at the airport told Reuters on Friday. The official, who declined to be named, said flights were taking off regularly.
3. Australia has stopped evacuation flights from Afghanistan after the attacks by the Islamic State suicide bombers, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday. Morrison said Australia's military personnel had been evacuated from Kabul just hours before the attacks and with security so precarious it was no longer safe to continue evacuations. "Our plan now moves into its post evacuation stage and that involves ensuring the process of returning, through our official humanitarian program," Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
4. The US on Thursday evacuated 7,500 people from Afghanistan after the twin blasts rocked Kabul airport. "From August 26 at 3am EDT to August 26 at 3pm EDT, a total of approximately 7,500 people were evacuated from Kabul. This is the result of 14 US military flights (13 C-17s and 1 C-130) which carried approximately 5,100 evacuees and 39 coalition flights which carried 2,400 people," a White House official said.
5. Norway can no longer assist in evacuating remaining citizens from Afghanistan's capital, Norwegian foreign minister Ine Eriksen Soereide has said. "The doors at the airport are now closed and it is no longer possible to get people in," Soereide told broadcaster TV2 on Thursday.
6. US troops helping to evacuate Afghans desperate to flee Taliban rule braced for more attacks on Friday after the Islamic State attack. General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said American commanders were on alert for more attacks by Islamic State, including possibly rockets or vehicle-borne bombs targeting the airport. "We're doing everything we can to be prepared," he said.
7. US President Joe Biden has pledged the United States would hunt down those responsible for the two blasts at the Kabul airport and said he had asked the Pentagon to develop plans to strike back at them. "We will not forgive, we will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay," Biden said in remarks at the White House. He promised US evacuations would continue. "We will not be deterred by terrorists, we will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuations," he said.
8. Amrullah Saleh, who has proclaimed himself the 'caretaker' President of Afghanistan, said that ISKP has links with the Taliban and the Haqqani network. Saleh also hit out at the Taliban for denying links with the Islamic State. "Every evidence we have in hand shows that IS-K cells have their roots in Talibs & Haqqani network particularly the ones operating in Kabul. Talibs denying links with ISIS is identical/similar to the denial of Pakistan on Quetta Shura. Talibs have learned very well from the master. #Kabul," Saleh said in a tweet.
9. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the US flag will be flown at half-mast until the evening of August 30 to honour those killed at Kabul airport. "As a mark for respect, starting today, the United States flag will be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds... until sunset on August 30, 2021, in honour of the victims of the senseless acts of violence in Kabul," Psaki said.
10. Joe Biden's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been rescheduled as the US president cleared his agenda to address bombings in Kabul. "The president's bilateral meeting... has been rescheduled for tomorrow," the White House said.