The American military says 12 service members were killed and 15 more wounded in attacks Thursday at the international airport in Afghanistan. At least 60 Afghans at the Kabul airport entrance also were killed.
General Kenneth McKenzie is head of the United States Central Command, which is leading U.S. forces at the airport. He said the attacks included two suicide bombings followed by mass shootings. He added that the U.S. will find out who was behind the attacks and “take action against them.”
McKenzie said American troops are continuing with the mission of evacuating “U.S, citizens, third-country nationals, Special Immigrant Visa holders, U.S. embassy staff and Afghans at risk.”
He added, "We are continuing to bring people onto the airfield. We just brought a number of buses aboard the airfield over the last couple or three hours… The plan is designed to operate under stress and under attack. And we will coordinate to make sure it's safe for American citizens to come to the airfield.”
An Afghan official told the Associated Press at least 60 Afghan civilians were also killed at the airport’s entrance. Emergency, an Italian non-profit group, said it was treating more than 60 wounded at a nearby hospital.
John Kirby is the spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense. Kirby said on Twitter that there were two explosions, one outside the airport’s Abbey Gate and the other nearby at Baron Hotel.
Adam Khan, an Afghan waiting near the airport’s Abbey Gate, told the AP that one bomb exploded in a crowd of people near him. He said several people appeared to have been killed and others, wounded. Reuters reported a video by an Afghan that shows blood and bodies in a street filled with wreckage.
The second explosion was at or near Baron Hotel, where many people, including Afghans, Britons and Americans, gathered in recent days before heading to the airport for evacuation.
The U.S. and other Western nations had warned earlier in the day of a possible attack at the airport. The U.S., Australia, Britain and New Zealand advised their citizens not to go to the airport. Australia’s foreign minister said the area was under a “very high threat of a terrorist attack.”
The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack.
A Taliban spokesman said his group “strongly condemns” Thursday’s attack. The group also said many Taliban fighters, on guard outside the airport, were among the wounded.
American forces secured the airport but the Taliban group is controlling the city and the surrounding area.
Evacuation is ending
A crowd of Afghans has been massing outside airport gates hoping to leave the country following the sudden capture of Kabul by the Taliban.
Last week, hundreds of people ran alongside an American military transport plane as it tried to take off. Some climbed onto the sides of the aircraft in hopes of finding a way out of the country.
The U.S. and Western countries have removed nearly 100,000 people from Afghanistan in the past 12 days. Most are Afghans who worked with the countries. The AP reported that evacuation flights continued to take off from Kabul airport even as the area was attacked.
President Joe Biden has already ordered American troops to leave by August 31. Biden said earlier in the week, “The sooner we can finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that there could be as many as 1,500 American passport holders waiting for evacuation from Afghanistan. Some countries have already ended their evacuations and begun to withdraw their soldiers and diplomats.
Canadian forces halted their evacuations of around 3,700 Canadian and Afghan citizens on Thursday, saying they had stayed as long as they could.
The Islamic State in Afghanistan
Fighters loyal to Islamic State began appearing in eastern Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
Western intelligence services said the group has a reputation for extreme violence. They said the group is fighting the Taliban both for ideological reasons and for control of local drug industry profits.
I'm Caty Weaver.
Hai Do adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting from Associated Press, Reuters and VOA. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
evacuate - v. remove people from a dangerous place
stress - n. physical force or pressure
coordinate -v. to act or work together
reputation - n. the common opinion about someone or something
ideological - adj. belong to a set of ideas or beliefs