Kabul airport blast: 2 suicide attacks, American casualties. What we know so far
- Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the explosion was the result of a complex attack and led to a number of casualties.
After Pentagon confirmed an explosion near one of the gates of the Kabul airport Thursday evening, the Taliban said at least 13 people including children were killed in the suspected suicide bombing, news agency Reuters reported. A video shared by TOLO News shows dozens of bodies lying around close to Kabul airport as people are trying to rescue survivors.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the explosion was the result of a complex attack that led to a number of casualties which include Afghans as well as Americans. Kirby also confirmed at least another explosion at or near the Baron Hotel which is at a short distance from Kabul airport.
“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. We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate. We will continue to update,” tweeted the Pentagon spokesperson.
Pentagon later confirmed that "a number of US service members" were killed in the attack.
US embassy in Kabul said there have been reports of gunfire at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, urging Americans to avoid travelling to the airport at this time.
"US citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately," the US embassy said.
Reports suggest that US President Joe Biden is monitoring the latest developments from the Situation Room of the White House.
The blast occurred hours after France and the Netherlands announced their decision to wrap up the evacuation operations amid security concerns. The United States, however, said it will continue to evacuate as many people as it can until the deadline.
A US official has said that the attack outside the Kabul airport is “definitely believed” to have been carried out by the Islamic State, reported Associated Press. US personnel deployed in the area were reportedly wounded in the attack which involved suicide bombers and gunmen.
The Afghanistan affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has emerged as a major security challenge for foreign countries trying to evacuate their nationals and other Afghan allies. A UN report recently warned that ISIS-Khorasan, a sworn enemy to the Taliban, has formed sleeper cells in many Afghan provinces. The report indicates that the strength of ISIS-K could be anywhere between 500 to 10,000.
(With inputs from agencies)