A bomb exploded outside the Kabul airport on Thursday, killing at least 13 people, including children, a Taliban official said, after the United States and its allies urged Afghans to leave the area due to a threat from the state. Islamic The official said that many Taliban guards were injured.
A US official said US service members were among those injured, adding that he was citing an initial report and warning that it could change. He said there were casualties but he did not know how many or of what nationality.
Thousands of people have been gathering outside the airport in recent days. Western troops are rushing to evacuate foreigners and Afghans who aided Western countries during the 20-year war against the Taliban and to get out themselves before the August 31 deadline.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that an explosion near the Abbey Gate entrance to the airport had caused an unknown number of victims. A Western diplomat in Kabul previously said that the areas outside the airport gates were “incredibly crowded” again despite warnings of a possible attack.
Many US officials said the blast appeared to be a suicide attack and a witness in Kabul saw many injured men, women and children awaiting treatment outside a hospital.
Western countries have been warning of a threat from Islamic State militants.
The Taliban, whose fighters guard the airport’s outer perimeter, are enemies of the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State, known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), by an old name for the region.
“Our guards are also risking their lives at the Kabul airport, they also face a threat from the Islamic State group,” said a Taliban official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and ahead of reports of the blast.
US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the blast, according to a White House official. Biden was in a meeting with security officials about the situation in Afghanistan when the blast was first reported, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Concerns about an attack came against a chaotic backdrop in Kabul, where ma** airlift of foreign nationals and their families, as well as some Afghans, has been underway since the day before the Taliban captured the city on August 15. , culminating in a lightning advance. across the country when American and allied troops withdrew.
Canadian forces halted evacuations of around 3,700 Canadians and Afghans on Thursday, saying they had stayed as long as they could before the deadline expired. US and allied troops must also plan the logistics of their own withdrawal.
“I wish we could have stayed longer and rescued everyone,” Acting Canadian Chief of Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre told reporters.
Biden ordered all troops to leave Afghanistan before the end of the month to fulfill a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, even though European allies said they needed more time.
In an alert Wednesday, the US Emba**y in Kabul advised citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and said those already at the gates should leave immediately.
British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said intelligence on a possible suicide bomb attack by Islamic State militants had become “much firmer”.
“The threat is credible, it is imminent, it is lethal. We wouldn’t be saying this if we weren’t really concerned with offering the Islamic State a target that is simply unimaginable
Australia also issued a warning for people to stay away from the airport while Belgium ended its evacuation operations due to the danger of an attack. The Netherlands said it expected to make its last evacuation flight on Thursday.
Fighters claiming allegiance to ISIS-K began to appear in eastern Afghanistan in late 2014, but the ultra-radical Sunni movement soon spread from the area near the Pakistani border where it first appeared.
Daesh, as it is widely known in Afghanistan, earned a reputation for extreme brutality by fighting the Taliban both for ideological reasons and for control of local smuggling and narcotics routes, according to Western intelligence services He also reported a series of suicide attacks in cities like Kabul, where be allowed to do so once foreign troops leave and commercial flights resume.
The Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule was marked by public executions and the curtailment of basic freedoms. Women were barred from school or work. The group was overthrown two decades ago by U.S.-led forces for hosting the al Qaeda militants who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States The Taliban have said they will respect human rights and will not allow terrorists to operate from the country.