U.S.

Images of Kabul suicide bombing show how attack took place at airport

Thirteen U.S. service members and at least 169 civilians were killed Thursday in a coordinated ISIS-K terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, outside a main gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

The dead include 11 U.S. Marines, a Navy hospital corpsman and one Army soldier. At least 18 U.S. service members were injured.

The Pentagon said the attack was carried out by a single suicide bomber from the ISIS-K terrorist network and multiple ISIS-K gunmen. Initially, a second explosion was reported near the Baron Hotel, a gathering point for Afghans seeking entry to the U.K. The Pentagon later said there was only a single blast.

President Joe Biden promised retribution for the attack in remarks Thursday, saying, “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

Here’s a look at the attack site and defenses in place:

The attack occurred as the U.S. is working rapidly to evacuate all Americans and Afghan allies out of Afghanistan before an Aug. 31 U.S. withdrawal deadline. The U.S. military is screening evacuees outside the Kabul airport before they board planes to depart.

Maj. General William Taylor said the bombing occurred at 5:40 p.m. Kabul time – 9 a.m. EDT – “right outside or the vicinity of” the airport’s Abbey gate. 

He said the bomb’s detonation – triggered by the vest of the suicide bomber – was followed by direct gun fire from ISIS-K gunmen north of the gate. Taylor said there were multiple shooters but did not know the exact number. 

The attack caused the first U.S. troop deaths since February 2020. Since the start of the war, the U.S. had more than 2,400 deaths.

The Pentagon said it will conduct a “thorough investigation” to determine how the attack unfolded and to review the security precautions taken to protect troops.

In the days leading up to the attack, Biden increasingly warned about the threat of an attack from ISIS-K before the U.S. withdrawal.

The State Department warned Americans Wednesday night to stay away from the airport and cited Abbey Gate, East Gate and North Gate as potential targets of attack. Officials from the U.K. and Australian officials issued similar alerts.

The Pentagon said all airport gates have been closed.

This is a developing story, click here for more updates.

SOURCE USA TODAY Network reporting and research; Associated Press

CONTRIBUTING Joey Garrison, Tom Vanden Brook, Caren Bohan, Javier Zarracina, and Shawn Sullivan, USA Today.

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