Yesterday’s attacks at the airport of the Afghan capital Kabul were claimed by IS. At least two terrorists blew themselves up, after which other IS fighters opened fire on civilians and soldiers. There have been 72 civilian deaths; thirteen US military personnel also died. Here’s what we already know about the terror attacks.
Yesterday there were two explosions in Kabul. The first occurred at 6:25 p.m. local time at Abbey Gate, a busy airport gate in Afghanistan’s capital, and one of three entrances closed after warnings of a terrorist threat.
A few minutes later, a second bomb exploded at the Baron Hotel, just outside the airport. Since the Taliban took power, the hotel has become a registration center where Afghans could go who wanted to flee the country. In the past, the location also served as a staging area for American citizens. Late Thursday night, another explosion was heard in Kabul; it was said to be controlled by US military personnel.
How many victims?
There have been 85 deaths and at least 160 injuries, a new assessment shows. According to the Pentagon, the fatalities include 13 US military personnel. 18 others were injured. That makes this one of the deadliest incidents for US troops in 20 years of Afghanistan.
There is confusion about casualties among the Taliban. According to Reuters, a Taliban official reported that 28 members of the Taliban were killed. However, that same report was later contradicted by a spokesman to the BBC.
Who is behind the attack?
Terror organization ‘Islamic State’ has claimed the attacks. In a communiqué distributed by its propaganda channel Amaq, IS says that one of its fighters was hit within five meters of American soldiers and detonated his bomb belt.
The United States, among others, had already warned of a terror threat at the airport. According to Western intelligence agencies, the danger is believed to come from Islamic State in Khorasan Province (IS-K).
The IS-K emerged in the region about six years ago and operates in eastern Afghanistan, among other places. The group, infamous for extremely bloody attacks, claims to have ties to other branches of IS. The group has repeatedly clashed with the Taliban.
The US Department of Defense is taking into account more attacks at the airport. ‘We believe it is their desire to continue these attacks, and we expect these attacks to continue, we are doing everything we can in the meantime to be prepared,’ said General Frank McKenzie. He added that he is taking into account missiles fired at the airport and car bombs.
How are the Taliban reacting?
According to PA Media, the Taliban have condemned the attacks. They also add that the explosions happened in an area controlled by US troops.
A NATO diplomat calls on the Taliban to keep a close eye on the terrorist group ISIS. According to the diplomat, “thousands of prisoners have been released in recent weeks,” Reuters reported. Security in Afghanistan is now the responsibility of the Taliban, emphasizes the diplomat.
How does US President Biden react?
Biden has threatened reprisals against IS-K after the attack. “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said at a press conference on Thursday. The US will respond “with strength and precision,” and at the right time, he added.
He also stressed that the Americans would continue their mission to evacuate people from Afghanistan in the coming days. “We will not be intimidated,” he said. The deadline of August 31 for the evacuation mission remains unchanged. In the Taliban’s interest, they continue to cooperate with the evacuations even after US troops leave the country, Biden said.
Biden said he was “outraged and heartbroken” at the loss of US military personnel. He called the fallen American soldiers “heroes who carried out a dangerous and selfless mission to save the lives of others”.