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US hits back at ISIS-K days after Kabul attack, 'kills' terrorist planner in drone strike in Afghanistan

A spokesperson for the US Central Command said the unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangahar province of Afghanistan, adding that the initial indications hint that the ISIS-K target has been killed and there have been no civilian casualties.
Written by Joydeep Bose | Edited by Meenakshi Ray, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 28, 2021 09:17 AM IST
US service members assist at an Evacuation Control Check Point (ECC) during an evacuation at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021. (US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla / Handout via REUTERS)

The US struck back at the Islamic State on Saturday as it bombed a member of the ISIS-K in eastern Afghanistan in a retaliatory airstrike less than 48 hours after a fatal suicide bombing claimed by the group killed as many as 169 Afghans and 13 American service members, news agencies reported. According to the Pentagon, the drone strikes by the US military targeted a 'planner' of the IS outfit.

The ISIS-K planner was suspected of being involved in plotting future attacks, but had no direct link to Thursday’s assault in Kabul, according to a US official speaking to the Bloomberg news agency on the condition of anonymity. He added that the target, traveling in a vehicle, was killed by a Reaper drone.

Also Read | ‘Leave immediately’: US embassy warns Americans to avoid Kabul airport

Captain Bill Urban, a spokesperson for the US Central Command said the unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangahar province of Afghanistan, adding that the initial indications hint that the target has been killed and there have been no civilian casualties.

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The airstrikes come in the wake of US president Joe Biden warning the Islamic State attackers of retaliation for the Kabul airport attack, saying the United States would neither forget nor forgive the act. “To those who carried out this attack as well as anyone who wishes America harm know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden had declared.

Earlier in the day, the US embassy in Kabul issued a fresh advisory for Americans, asking them to avoid travelling to the Kabul airport because of security threats. Those at the Abbey, East, North, or the new ministry of interior gates should leave immediately, it said. The country also asked the Taliban to close certain roads because of the possibility of suicide bombers in vehicles and warned there could be more attacks ahead of President Joe Biden's deadline on August 31 to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan.

Also Read | Key things to know about ISIS-K behind Kabul airport

Thursday's bombing, which has been claimed by the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K) group, marked one of the deadliest days for American forces in Afghanistan since 2011.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people have already been evacuated through the Kabul airport but thousands of others are desperate to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. US officials said evacuees with proper credentials still were being allowed through the gates, while as many as 5,400 evacuees currently await flights at the airport.

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