Dozens Of Civilians, 12 US Troops Killed In Kabul Bomb Explosions
MDB earlier reported the twin explosions outside the Kabul airport on Thursday, amid efforts to evacuate foreign citizens and diplomats out of the country.
Among the dead were 11 U.S. Marines and a Navy medic, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The Associated Press earlier reported the 12 deaths. In addition to the U.S. troops, at least 13 Afghans were killed and 52 others wounded, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said by phone.
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Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin in a statement on the Americans killed said;
Terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others. We mourn their loss. We will treat their wounds. And we will support their families in what will most assuredly be devastating grief. But we will not be dissuaded from the task at hand.
A Pentagon official who addressed journalists in Washington on Thursday said the attackers are believed to be linked to ISIL. Apart from the soldiers killed, about 15 others were injured in the explosions, he said.
Kabul airport has been under the global spotlight since thousands of people rushed there last week in a bid to leave the country after Taliban took over the government.
Deaths of U.S. troops, after more than 100,000 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan in the past two weeks, will significantly raise the pressure on President Joe Biden to decide if he sticks with his August 31 deadline to get all American forces out, and to explain why the U.S. appeared to be caught off guard by Afghan government’s sudden collapse.
Taliban blamed the U.S., which is directing a military-led evacuation from Kabul, for drawing large crowds to the airport perimeter.
Mujahed said an investigation into who was behind the attack is continuing, though many analysts said an offshoot of Islamic State — an enemy of both the Taliban and the U.S. — could be to blame.
We strongly condemn this lethal attack which happened at an area of Kabul airport which is under the control of Americans. They are responsible for the security of the area.
The blast occurred around the time President Joe Biden was scheduled to meet with his national security team about the situation in Afghanistan.
He has since been briefed in the White House Situation Room, according to an official. A late-morning meeting with visiting Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett is now postponed, the White House said, and a planned virtual meeting with governors to discuss taking in Afghanistan refugees has been called off.
Also, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being kept updated on developments at Kabul’s airport and will host a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, later this afternoon, his office said in a statement.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel canceled a planned trip to Israel over the situation in Afghanistan, her spokesman said.
Afghans and others trying to flee Kabul have packed around the airport trying to get onto one of the many military flights leaving the country.
Biden this week reiterated his plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by August 31, though he called on the Pentagon and State Department to come up with contingency plans in case they are needed.