105 Afghans, 13 US troops killed in twin suicide bombing at Kabul airport; US vows to continue evacuation
At least 105 Afghans and 13 US personnel were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday evening when two suicide bombers blew themselves up-- first, just outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport and second at the nearby Baron Hotel
At least 105 Afghans and 13 US personnel were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday evening when two suicide bombers blew themselves up-- first, just outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport and second at the nearby Baron Hotel. The explosions, which were followed by gunfire, also left around 150 Afghans--many of them critical-- and 15 US troops injured.
The ISIS-K, a regional affiliate of ISIS, took responsibility for the attack. Condemning the attack, US President Joe Biden vowed to finish the evacuation despite the continued threat of more such attacks.
“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 in a press conference after the attack. “We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command,” he added.
Multiple western intelligence agencies had warned since Wednesday evening about an imminent attack by ISIS at the Kabul airport where the US and NATO troops are executing what many call one of the toughest evacuation operations in history to pull out their nationals and other Afghans at risk.
Despite multiple warnings, Afghans, who were there at the airport’s North Gate entrance, ignored the warnings in a bid to get out of the country where they were facing the risk of retribution at the hands of the Taliban.
The Taliban, who themselves have executed several complex suicide attacks in the last two decades and had once famously called their suicide bombers “Mullah Omer’s missiles”, also condemned the Thursday attack. Zabihullah Mujahid, the group's spokesperson, called the attack an “act of terrorism”. Reuters, quoting a Taliban official, reported 28 Taliban fighters--who were securing the outer of the airport--were among those killed in the attack.
Amid mounting criticism for what many call the botched-up evacuation operation, Biden said, “This is why, from the outset, I’ve repeatedly said this mission was extraordinarily dangerous and why I have been so determined to limit the duration of this mission.”
“We will not be deterred by terrorists,” he said, adding “We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.”
Many experts also pointed fingers at the Taliban who had released thousands of prisoners earlier this month, many among them were ISIS operatives, seeking to make their presence felt at a time when their arch enemy, the Taliban, has been claiming victory over the mighty US and NATO troops.
US General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, said during a briefing today at the Pentagon, "Let me be clear: while we're saddened by the loss of life, both U.S. and Afghan [citizens], we're continuing to execute the mission."
Following the attack, Norway has stopped the evacuation, and many other NATO countries could follow suit. The US intelligence community, which has beefed up security measures, is bracing for more such attacks as they continue the evacuation mission. However, the extremely chaotic conditions at the airport will pose a continued threat of more such attacks.