Kabul airport bombed as evacuations from Afghanistan continue
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Kabul, Afghanistan (Nation Now– Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul airport on Thursday, turning a scene of despair into a scene of horror at the end of a massive airlift that drew thousands of people people seeking to flee the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
The attacks killed at least 60 Afghans and 13 US soldiers, Afghan and US officials said.
“We’re going to hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden told the airport attackers in a speech Thursday.
Eighteen soldiers were injured and officials warned the toll could rise. More than 140 Afghans have been injured, an Afghan official said.
“We will not be deterred by terrorists,” Biden said. “We won’t let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.
No less than 1,000 Americans and many more Afghans are still struggling to get out of Kabul.
“We continue to focus on protecting our forces and the evacuees as the evacuation continues. Let’s be clear: while we are saddened by the loss of life, both American and Afghan, we continue to execute the mission, ”said Marine General Kenneth McKenzie Jr.
McKenzie said the military believes the complex attack outside Kabul airport was carried out by ISIS-K, a splinter group from the ISIS terrorist group.
He added that the army would “pursue” the perpetrators of the Kabul attacks if they could be found.
“We expect these attacks to continue,” he said, adding that Taliban commanders have been urged to take additional security measures to prevent another suicide bombing on the perimeter of the airport. He said he sees no indication that the Taliban allowed Thursday’s attacks to occur.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a statement expressing its deepest condolences to the soldiers who died in the attack.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the first part of the “complex attack” occurred in front of the Abbey Gate at Kabul airport. The second attack took place “at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate”.
The explosion occurred in crowds of people waiting to enter the airport, according to Adam Khan, an Afghan waiting nearby. He said several people appeared to have been killed or injured, some of whom lost body parts.
“Terrorists have committed suicide just as these troops were trying to save the lives of other people,” Austin said. “We mourn their loss. We will heal their wounds. And we will support their families in what will undoubtedly be devastating grief. “
The Taliban condemned the attack, saying it occurred in an area controlled by US forces.
Thousands of Afghans have gathered at the airport for days in an attempt to flee the country from the The Taliban takeover earlier this month. Military officials confirmed on Thursday that they had evacuated more than 104,000, including more than 66,000 from the United States alone and more than 37,000 from other countries.
Many countries urged people to avoid the airport, where an official said there was a threat of suicide bombing. But a few days – even hours for some countries – before the end of the evacuation effort, few seemed to answer the call.
Even when the area was hit, the official said evacuation flights continued to take off from Kabul airport, which Western governments had previously warned was a target.
Over the past week, the the airport was the scene of some of the most striking images of the chaotic end America’s longest war and Taliban takeover, as flight after flight has taken flight, sweeping away those who fear a brutal return to the militants’ rule.
NewsNationNow.com spoke with both refugees and defenders desperate to save as many of the country’s people as possible. They described dangerous conditions on the ground as the Taliban try to prevent people from leaving.
Army veteran Chris McClanathan has denounced the Biden administration’s troop withdrawal strategy, explaining the struggle his former interpreter, Romal, faces as he tries to leave.
“Unless they tell me something terrible has happened. I will continue to do what I can do. But it’s a shame that I have to do this. Our administration should do it, ”said McClanathan.
Already, some countries have halted their evacuations and started withdrawing their troops and diplomats, marking the beginning of the end of one of the largest airlifts in history. The Taliban have so far honored their promise not to attack Western forces during evacuation, but insist foreign troops must be out of here America’s self-imposed deadline of August 31st.
The die-hard Islamic group has regained control of the country almost 20 years after being ousted in a US-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks, orchestrated by al-Qaida while it was housed by the group.
Amid the warnings and the impending U.S. withdrawal, Canada halted its evacuations and European countries halted or prepared to shut down their own operations.
The Taliban have said they will allow Afghans to leave via commercial flights after the deadline next week, but it is still unclear which airlines would return to an airport controlled by the militants.
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