The Washington Times:
Several Americans are among the casualties, Pentagon officials said, with the apparent terrorist attack coming at a critical moment in the U.S.-led airlift out of Afghanistan.
The attacks, widely believed to be the work of the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, ISIS-K, targeted both the airport and the city’s Baron Hotel. The attacks killed at least 13 people and wounded another 15, according to media reports, though it’s unclear how many of those are Americans.
Several children also are reportedly among the dead.
“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & 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 in a Twitter post.
Bilal Siwary, an Afghan journalist working in the U.K., said in a Twitter message that multiple eyewitnesses told him a suicide attacker detonated a device while in the middle of the crowd outside the airport. Another attacker then started shooting, touching off a firefight with military forces at the scene.
After Thursday morning’s blasts, lawmakers urged the Biden administration to do whatever is necessary to secure the airport and allow the evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans to continue. Nearly 100,000 people have been flown out so far, including at least 4,500 U.S. citizens, but tens of thousands more remain trapped. Just days remain before President Biden‘s self-imposed Aug. 31 for a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“We must do everything we can to stabilize the situation outside the airport so that we can resume evacuations of American citizens … and the Afghans most in danger as soon as possible,” said Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat. “We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to U.S. service members who are carrying out the mission on the ground despite the great danger and challenges they are facing.”
U.S. officials had not publicly warned of any threats to the Baron Hotel. But there was growing concern that an attack on the Kabul airport was virtually inevitable. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of such an assault in a speech Wednesday.
“We’re operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS-K attack. We’re taking every precaution, but this is very high risk,” Mr. Blinken said.
Hours after that speech, the U.S. embassy in Kabul late Wednesday night specifically warned Americans to stay away from the Abbey Gate, along with several other areas of the airport amid terrorist threats.
Other Western nations also warned of a possible attack on Kabul’s airport in the waning days of the massive evacuation efforts.
Several countries urged 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.
U.S. Rep. Mark Green, a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, said the blasts outside the airport leave no room for doubt that the Taliban hasn’t kept their word to guarantee safe passage to the airport.