At least 72 Afghan nationals and 13 US military personnel have been killed in the devastating bomb blast at the Kabul Airport on Thursday (26 Aug), just five days before the Biden administration’s deadline for the complete military withdrawal from the country.
18 US troops have been injured in the blast, while several Afghan nationals were injured in the blast.
The Pentagon confirmed the 13th fatality late on Thursday (26).
It is believed to be the most US troops killed in Afghanistan in a single incident since 30 personnel died when a helicopter was shot down in August 2011.
A suicide bomb attack at the airport’s Abbey Gate, while the other bomb attack took place nearby, at a hotel outside the airport, officials said.
Video shot by Afghan journalists showed dozens of bodies strewn around a canal on the edge of the airport.
“I saw bodies and body parts flying in the air like a tornado blowing plastic bags,” said one Afghan witness. “That little water flowing in the sewage canal had turned into blood.”
The US currently has 5,800 troops at the airport in Kabul working to evacuate thousands of US citizens, Afghans, and others.
Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie Jr says “ISIS gunmen” also had opened fire on the crowds and US forces after the bomb detonated.
Islamic State (ISIS), an enemy of the Taliban as well as the West, said one of its suicide bombers targeted “translators and collaborators with the American army”. U.S. officials also blamed the group and vowed retribution.
General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said U.S. commanders were on alert for more attacks by Islamic State, including possible rockets or vehicle-borne bombs targeting the airport.
“We’re doing everything we can to be prepared,” he said, adding that some intelligence was being shared with the Taliban and that he believed “some attacks have been thwarted by them.”
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.
“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.”