Thursday December 02, 2021

At least 72 killed in Kabul airport attack

August 27, 2021

KABUL: At least 60 Afghans and 12 US service members were killed in explosions at the Kabul airport, as two blasts ripped through crowds trying to enter the American-controlled facility on Thursday, foreign media reported.

The suicide bomb attack was followed by an assault by gunmen from Islamic State’s regional affiliate, according to the Pentagon. Fifteen US service members were injured, the Pentagon said.

An Afghan official confirming the death toll said that at least 143 civilians were wounded in the attack. Islamic State or Daesh has claimed responsibility for the Kabul airport attacks on the group’s Telegram account. The dead include 11 Marines and one Navy medic, according to two US officials. They said another 15 service members were wounded and warned the toll could grow.

“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US and civilian casualties. We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday in a Tweet. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and injured," he said.

US Military Central Commander General McKenzie said the US was prepared to take action against those responsible for Kabul attacks. US President Joe Biden was to speak on the attacks, a source familiar with the plans tells CNN.

One of the bombers struck people standing knee-deep in a wastewater canal under the sweltering sun, throwing bodies into the fetid water. Those who moments earlier had hoped to get on flights out could be seen carrying the wounded to ambulances in a daze, their own clothes darkened with blood.

The second blast was at or near Baron Hotel, where many people, including Afghans, Britons and Americans, were told to gather in recent days before heading to the airport for evacuation.

Footage posted to social media showed chaotic scenes of crowds of people trying to help the wounded amid bodies on the ground. Photos showed apparently injured people being transported away from the scene in wheelbarrows.

Abbey Gate has become the main entry point to the airport and primary security there has been provided by US Marines. The area around that gate had been used for holding refugees after they passed through the Taliban check points outside the airport, and before they were allowed to go to the airport.

Baron Hotel was used by British soldiers and other allies as an evacuation handling center to process evacuees, before moving them up to the Abbey Gate.Western officials had warned of a major attack, urging people to leave the airport, but that advice went largely unheeded by Afghans desperate to escape the country in the last few days of an American-led evacuation before the US officially ends its 20-year presence on Aug. 31.

Emergency, an Italian charity that operates hospitals in Afghanistan, said it had received at least 60 patients wounded in the airport attack, in addition to 10 who were dead when they arrived.

“Surgeons will be working into the night,” said Marco Puntin, the charity’s manager in Afghanistan. The wounded overflowed the triage zone into the physiotherapy area and more beds were being added, he said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said there were casualties, including among members of the military, but gave no figure. He said one explosion was near an airport entrance and another was a short distance away by a hotel.

Even as the area was hit, evacuation flights continued to take off from Kabul airport. Adam Khan was waiting nearby when he saw the first explosion outside what’s known as the Abbey gate. He said several people appeared to have been killed or wounded, including some who were maimed.

However, Taliban Spokesman for International Media Muhammad Suhail Shaheen said that the blasts occurred in an area under control of US forces. In a Tweet he said: “The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul airport, which took place in an area where US forces are responsible for security.

The Islamic Emirate is paying close attention to the security and protection of its people, and evil circles will be strictly stopped.” Meanwhile, the Foreign Office spokesperson in a Tweet said: “Pakistan strongly condemns the heinous terrorist attack at Kabul airport, which reportedly resulted in loss of precious lives, incl. children. We condemn terrorism in all forms & manifestations, convey our condolences to bereaved families & pray for early recovery of the injured.”