At least 72 Afghans and 13 US troops have been killed and dozens of others wounded, medical sources and US officials have said, after two powerful explosions took place outside Kabul’s international airport amid a huge and chaotic evacuation effort from Afghanistan.
A “complex attack” on Thursday at the airport in Afghanistan’s capital caused a number of US and civilian casualties, the Pentagon said.
United States President Joe Biden vowed to retaliate against Thursday’s attack in Kabul, saying that he will hunt down those responsible and make them pay.
Biden confirmed in a speech from the White House on Thursday that the bombings were carried out by DAESH affiliate, the DAESH in Khorasan Province (DAESHKP or DAESH-K).
“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,” Biden said.
“We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests in our people with every measure at my command.”
Biden added that the US will continue the evacuations of American citizens and US allies despite the attack. “We will not be deterred by terrorists; we will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuations,” he said.
American service members had not been killed in combat Afghanistan since February 2020.
Biden had postponed his engagements for the day, including a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, to focus on the situation in Afghanistan.
General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, confirmed earlier on Thursday that airlifts will not stop after the attack.
“Our mission is to evacuate US citizens, third-country nationals, Special Immigrant Visa holders, US embassy staff and Afghans at risk,” McKenzie said. “Despite this attack, we’re continuing the mission.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, the top US general, also said the American military remains “focused and steadfast on this mission”.
“These brave men and women are taking risks to save lives of the vulnerable and safeguard Americans,” Milley said. “They’ve moved more than 100,000 people to safety. I could not be prouder of their service. They gave their lives to save others; there is no higher noble calling.”
Here are the latest updates:
Documents with details of Afghan staff left at UK embassy in Kabul: report
Staff of the United Kingdom’s embassy in Kabul, who hurriedly evacuated following the Taliban takeover on August 15, have left documents with contact details of Afghans working for them, as well as other identifying information such as job applications of Afghans, according to an exclusive report by The Times in the UK.
According to the report the documents were left scattered on the ground at the British embassy compound in Kabul that has been seized by the Taliban.
“Phone calls to the numbers on the documents revealed that some Afghan employees and their families remained stranded on the wrong side of the airport perimeter wall days after their details were left in the dirt in the haste of the embassy’s evacuation on August 15,” the report said.
US: Over 100,000 evacuated from Afghanistan since August 14
The US has announced that more than 100,000 people from Afghanistan have been evacuated since August 14, the eve of the Taliban’s return to power.
“Since August 14, the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 100,100 people,” the White House said in a statement issued on Thursday hours after a twin blast killed dozens of Afghans and at least 13 US troops, at one of the entrances at Kabul airport.
The Taliban has given the US until August 31 to withdraw its troops and evacuate its citizens as well as Afghans with documents to leave.
“A total of approximately 7,500 people were evacuated from Kabul,” over a 12-hour period on Thursday, the White House added.
US military’s toll in Kabul bombing rises to 13: Pentagon
The US Defense Department has announced that the number of US troops killed in the blasts at Kabul airport rose by one to 13 and the number of injured was 18.
“A thirteenth US service member has died from his wounds suffered as a result of the attack on Abbey Gate,” Central Command spokesman Captain Bill Urban said in a statement.
Not possible to evacuate all Afghans looking to leave: White House
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it will be impossible for the United States to evacuate all Afghans looking to leave the country.
“It is not going to be possible for every single Afghan, millions potentially, who want to leave Afghanistan to be evacuated,” Psaki said.
She added that Washington remains committed to get American citizens and US allies out of the country, even after US troops pull out of Afghanistan completely on August 31.
Biden says US troops did not face attacks over past year because of withdrawal deal
President Joe Biden said the reason there had been no American combat fatalities in Afghanistan since February 2020 prior to Thursday’s attack was because of the deal his predecessor Donald Trump had signed with the Taliban.
“The reason why there were no attacks on Americans … was because the commitment was made by President Trump, ‘I will be out by May 1; in the meantime, you agree not to attack any Americans’,” Biden said.
“That was the deal. That’s why no American was attacked.”
The US president added at the conclusion of his speech, “Ladies and gentlemen, it was time to end a 20-year war.”
Third blast heard in Kabul, Taliban say US military destroying ammunition
A Taliban spokesperson confirmed that a third blast reported by local and international media around Kabul was from the US military destroying ammunitions.
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reporting from Kabul said the explosion sounded like a ” very large thud, a huge bang”.
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