In the hours after Thursday’s suicide bombings near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, evacuations of Americans and their allies restarted, an effort to get out as many civilians ahead of the military’s withdrawal, just four days away. The bombings did not deter a crowd from massing outside the airport’s gates.
The death toll from the blasts includes 11 U.S. Marines, a Navy hospital corpsman, and another service member whose branch was not immediately identified, American officials said. At least 18 U.S. service members were injured. It was the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.
At least 95 Afghans died, according to US and Afghan officials.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” President Joe Biden said on Thursday evening.
The bombings, which occurred near the Abbey Gate on the airport’s civilian side, hit hours after Western officials warned of a major attack on the airport. Islamic State terror group ISIS-K claimed credit for the violence.
“Active threats against the airfield” remain, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., head of the U.S. Center Command, warned at a Pentagon briefing on Thursday.
The scene at the airport is one of panic and chaos as U.S. forces continue evacuation procedures. Those injured in the attack were wheeled away, bloodied and dazed, on stretchers — even in wheelbarrows — by volunteers. The air above the airfield was thick was smoke as sirens filled the air after the blast.
A video on Twitter appeared to show bodies floating in a canal and piled on a sidewalk near an entrance to the airport.
“It was as if someone pulled the ground from under my feet; for a moment I thought my eardrums were blasted and I lost my sense of hearing,” the man, who was not identified for fear of reprisal, told Insider. “It is not possible to see doomsday in this life, but today I saw doomsday, I witnessed it with my own eyes.”
Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said about 5,000 people were waiting at the airfield to be flown out of the country and evacuations would not slow following the attack.
About 1,000 U.S. citizens are believed to still be in Afghanistan. Heavy security and roadblocks set up by the Taliban make accessing the airport a challenge. And entry is nearly impossible now that U.S. forces have closed all gates due to the attack.
– Chelsey Cox
KABUL, Afghanistan — Evacuation flights from Afghanistan resumed with new urgency on Friday, a day after two suicide bombings targeted the thousands of desperate people fleeing the Taliban takeover and killed more than 100. The U.S. warned more attacks could come ahead of the Tuesday deadline for foreign troops to leave, ending America’s longest war.
As the call to prayer echoed through Kabul along with the roar of departing planes, the anxious crowd outside the airport was as large as ever. Dozens of Taliban members carrying heavy weapons patrolled one area about 1,600 feet from the airport to prevent anyone from venturing beyond.
Thursday’s bombings near Kabul’s international airport killed at least 95 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops, Afghan and U.S. officials said.
Afghan officials warned that the true toll could be higher, with morgues stretched to capacity and the possibility that relatives are taking bodies away from the scene. One official said as many as 115 may have died. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
At least 10 bodies lay on the grounds outside Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital, where relatives said the mortuary could take no more. Afghans said many of the dead are unclaimed because family members are travelling from distant provinces.
– Associated Press