13 US Marines and over 60 Afghans killed in Suicide Bomb attack outside Kabul Airport
According to the Pentagon and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health, two bombing attacks outside Kabul’s airport killed thirteen US service members and at least 60 Afghans.
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the United States and other Western countries scrambled to finish a large evacuation of its citizens and Afghan allies.
On Thursday, an official from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health told reporters that more than 60 Afghans had died and 140 had been injured.
In addition to the 13 killed, 18 US military personnel were injured, according to US Central Command Capt. Bill Urban.
US President Joe Biden, speaking from the White House, called the troops “heroes” and said he was “outraged as well as heartbroken.”
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he warned the perpetrators of the attack.
ISIS-K, or ISIS in Khorasan, has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, but has presented no proof to back up the allegation.
The group is suspected of being behind the attack, according to US authorities, and Biden declared on Thursday that he had directed US military commanders to “to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities.”
In recent days, the President has highlighted the threat of a terrorist attack as one of the grounds for withdrawing US forces by August 31. He had also pledged a rapid and severe retaliation if the mission was disrupted.
Over the last week, US officials have been warning that the possibility of a terror strike at the airport was getting more serious. Security threats prompted US officials in Kabul to advise American citizens to “immediately” exit multiple gates into the airport earlier on Thursday local time.
The US had already established alternative routes to Kabul airport earlier in the evacuation operation due to the risk of probable suicide assaults by ISIS-K.
Biden stated that relying on the Taliban to provide security outside the airport was not a mistake.
While the President does not trust the Taliban, he believes it is in both the US and the Taliban’s best interests to try to prevent an ISIS strike.
In recent days, tens of thousands of Afghans have gathered at the airport’s gates in the hopes of being evacuated. After the blasts, footage released to social media showed chaotic scenes of groups of people rushing to aid the injured amid bodies on the ground. Wheelbarrows were seen being used to move presumably injured people away from the scene in photos.
According to Marine spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger, ten Marines were killed and several more were wounded. He said that the identities and units of those slain would not be revealed until Friday, after relatives had been notified.
One of the explosions occurred “at the airport’s Abbey Gate” according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, while “at least one other explosion happened at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”