U.S. military members, Afghans killed in suicide bombings outside Kabul airport

Two suicide bombers and gunmen killed several Marines and injured other American military as well Afghan civilians, in the waning days of a massive airlift that has drawn thousands of people seeking to flee the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the first attack occurred outside the Abbey Gate in the Kabul airport. The second attack was “at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.” He added it was a “complex attack” with multiple U.S. and civilian causalities.

Kirby later said “we can confirm that a number of U.S. service members were killed in today’s complex attack at Kabul airport. A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack.”

The Associated Press reported that several U.S. Marines were killed along with other military members being wounded, but the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were still trying to determine the exact number of causalities.

The explosion went off in a crowd 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 wounded, including some who lost body parts.

The State Departmentalso confirmed the blast occurred and said there were reports of gunfire. In a tweet, the department warned U.S. citizens to “avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates. Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.”

A U.S. official, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, says the complex attack outside Kabul airport is “definitely believed” to have been carried out by the Islamic State group.

The Pentagon is expected to brief the press about the latest on evacuation efforts and the reported blast outside the airport.

President Joe Biden was also briefed on the explosion and is meeting with his national security team Thursday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

The Taliban condemned the attack, saying it happened it an area controlled by U.S. forces.

Even as the area was hit, the official said evacuation flights continued to take off from Kabul airport, which Western governments earlier warned was a target.

Thousands of Afghans have been gathered at the airport for days trying to flee the country since the Taliban’s takeover earlier this month.

Several countriesurged people to avoid the airport, where an official said there was a threat of a suicide bombing. But just days — or even hours for some nations — before the evacuation effort ends, few appeared to heed the call.

Over the last week, the airport has been the scene of some of the most searing images of the chaotic end of America’s longest war and the Taliban’s takeover, as flight after flight took off carrying those who fear a return to the militants’ brutal rule.

NewsNationNow.com has spoken with both refugees and advocates desperate to rescue as many people as possible from the country. They have described dangerous conditions on the ground as the Taliban tries to stop people from leaving.

Army veteran Chris McClanathan decried the Biden administration’s troop withdrawal strategy as he explained the struggle his former interpreter, Romal, is facing attempting to leave.

“Unless they tell me something terrible has happened. I’m going to keep doing what I can do. But it’s a shame that I have to do this. Our administration should be doing this,” said McClanathan.

Already, some countries have ended their evacuations and begun to withdraw their soldiers and diplomats, signaling the beginning of the end of one of history’s largest airlifts. The Taliban have so far honored a pledge not to attack Western forces during the evacuation, but insist the foreign troops must be out by America’s self-imposed deadline of Aug. 31.

The hard-line Islamic group wrested back control of the country nearly 20 years after being ousted in a U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks, which al-Qaida orchestrated while being sheltered by the group.

Senior U.S. officials said Wednesday’s warning from the embassy was related to specific threats involving the Islamic State group and potential vehicle bombs. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing military operations.

Amid the warnings and the pending American withdrawal, Canada ended its evacuations, and European nations halted or prepared to stop their own operations.

“The reality on the ground is the perimeter of the airport is closed. The Taliban have tightened the noose. It’s very, very difficult for anybody to get through at this point,” said Canadian General Wayne Eyre, the country’s acting chief of defense staff.

The Taliban have said they’ll allow Afghans to leave via commercial flights after the deadline next week, but it remains unclear which airlines would return to an airport controlled by the militants.

© 2021 Trenton Curtis News Media Broadcasting Publications. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission from TC media team.

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