BREAKING! Explosion hits outside Kabul airport after terror attack warnings as thousands rush to evacuate

NBC News:

“We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Twitter. “Casualties are unclear at this time.”

ISIS-K an ISIS offshoot organization is believed to be responsible.

Kabul airport was hit by an explosion Thursday, throwing evacuation efforts into more turmoil days before President Joe Biden’s deadline for all U.S. forces to withdraw from the country.

“We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Twitter. “Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can.”

Biden was briefed on the blast.

The explosion came hours after the United States and its allies warned about a potential terror attack.

Western countries had urged people to avoid traveling to the airport as fears of an attack by the Islamic State terror group posed the latest setback for the massive airlift.

While thousands continued to crowd the airport in an effort to flee in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover, Western nations also raised the alarm and some said they would have to suspend evacuations.

In an alert issued Wednesday evening, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul urged Americans not to travel to the airport without individual instructions from a government representative, citing security threats outside.

It urged citizens at three specific gates to “leave immediately.”

A State Department spokesperson called it a dynamic and volatile security situation on the ground.

Allies who have joined Washington in the rush to evacuate their citizens and vulnerable Afghans ahead of Biden’s Tuesday deadline issued similar warnings about the security situation.

“There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack,” the British foreign office said in updated travel advice late Wednesday, telling people to avoid the airport and “move away to a safe location.”

On Thursday, U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told NBC News’ U.K. partner Sky News that an “imminent, lethal attack” could happen at Kabul airport in a matter of hours.

Kabul airport has been a flashpoint for chaotic scenes and security fears since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s capital Aug.15.

Over the weekend, U.S. defense officials warned about specific threats from ISIS against those trying to leave Afghanistan.

Biden has also warned about the risk of attack from the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group, known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), after an old name for the region.

“Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and Allied forces and innocent civilians,” he said Tuesday.

The president has stuck to his deadline for the U.S. mission to end in spite of criticism at home and abroad.

The Taliban have warned that any delay of the U.S. exit would be crossing a “red line” that will have consequences, but they have so far kept up their promise not to attack any Western forces as they evacuate.

Two decades after a U.S.-led invasion toppled their regime in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, the militants’ takeover has raised concerns that Afghanistan might once again provide a breeding ground for terrorism.

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