At least 72 people have died, including 12 US service personnel, after two blasts and a gunfight outside Kabul airport. An official has confirmed at least 60 Afghans were killed and 143 others were wounded in the suspected suicide bombings.Islamic State affiliate, Isis said on its Telegram account it was behind the attack.
It happened close to where thousands of people have been desperately waiting to be evacuated out of the country.Head of US Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, said 12 US service personnel were killed and another 15 were injured.
He said the bombing was followed by a gunfight and that, while the military is saddened by the deaths, evacuations from Afghanistan are continuing.He confirmed about 1,000 US citizens are estimated to still be in the country.
General Kenneth McKenzie added that he expects IS attacks to continue, saying there are “extremely active” threats to the US in Kabul.
He said some information is being shared with the Taliban, and they have been asked to close some roads as the threat of a car bomb in Kabul is high but he does not believe the Taliban let the bombing happen.
He added that it is assumed the suicide bomber was being searched when the device went off, and despite the incident, the US evacuation mission – which is due to end on 31 August – will continue as planned.The Taliban has “strongly” condemned the attack, which it said took place in an area where US forces are responsible for security.
UK defence sources said one of the blasts took place by a hotel where British troops and journalists have been staying, followed by small arms fire, while the second one was near Abbey Gate.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK’s evacuation effort in Afghanistan will continue despite the “barbaric” terrorist attack at Kabul airport.He confirmed members of the US military “lost their lives” in the attacks and added that members of the Taliban were “almost certainly” killed.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence has confirmed no UK military or government fatalities have been reported following the incidents.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the attack is a “stark reminder of the dangerous situation” in Afghanistan, following a call with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.He added: “I also want to extend my condolences to the families of all those Afghans killed or injured. It is tragic that as they sought safety they have suffered at the hands of terrorists.
“Today’s attack is a stark reminder of the dangerous situation in which UK military and civilian personnel have been working so hard to evacuate people and we should be proud of their bravery and what they have achieved.
The UK and US remain resolute in our mission to get as many people out as possible. It is testament to the remarkable courage of our personnel that they continue to do so while under fire.We will not let the cowardly acts of terrorists stop us.”One emergency hospital in Kabul said around 60 people have arrived at its facility with injuries.Rossella Miccio, president of Emergency NGO hospital, said the facility is currently “overwhelmed” with patients from the blast.Ten people were dead on arrival and approximately 60 others were injured and needing treatment.
A Taliban spokesperson has condemned the attack, saying: “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.”President Joe Biden was briefed on the explosion, the White House said.
He added: “We’re not certain on the number of casualties, we have to assume a number of civilians, but initial reports suggest to us that American soldiers, not British soldiers but American soldiers have been injured.
“It was so very clearly a dangerous place to be because of the numbers of people coming through, and the fact that there are no real checks on what people are carrying or wearing to get through into this canal area.”
Ramsay said the attack “is not inside the airport proper, is on the perimeter wall of the airport, and it’s one road that leads to the processing area which is initially set up by the British.”The explosion came after warnings earlier in the day that a “very lethal” terror attack could occur at the airport in a matter of hours.
Following the explosion close to Kabul airport, the Ministry of Defence tweeted: “We are working urgently to establish what has happened in Kabul and its impact on the ongoing evacuation effort.
“Our primary concern remains the safety of our personnel, British citizens and the citizens of Afghanistan. We are in close contact with our US and other NATO allies at an operational level on the immediate response to this incident.”