Washington: The Pentagon said on Thursday that at least two explosions occurred near the Kabul Airport during the large-scale evacuation from Afghanistan, causing casualties of civilians and American soldiers.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that one explosion occurred near the airport’s monastery gate, and the other occurred near the nearby Baron Hotel. Two U.S. officials said that at least one explosion appeared to be a suicide bombing.
Kirby said on Twitter: “We can confirm that the explosion at the gate of the monastery was caused by a complex attack that caused some American and civilian casualties.” At least one explosion occurred nearby.”
A Taliban official said that at least 13 people were killed in the explosion, including children, and many Taliban guards were injured.
An American official told Reuters that according to preliminary information, as many as three American soldiers were injured, and the number of American casualties is expected to increase. An official said that at least one American was seriously injured.
The US Embassy in Kabul described “a big explosion” and said there were reports of gunfire.
The explosion occurred after the United States and allies urged Afghans to leave the area due to threats from the Islamic State.
Since the day before the Taliban army occupied Kabul on August 15, the large-scale airlift of foreign nationals and their families, as well as some Afghans, has been going on. With the retreat of the United States and allied forces, the country has moved forward rapidly.
According to a White House official, President Joe Biden has been briefed on the explosion. According to people familiar with the matter, Biden was meeting with security officials on the situation in Afghanistan, when the United States was in the final step of ending its 20-year war, when the bombing was first reported.
The United States has been fighting for airlifts before its troops completely withdraw from the country on August 31.
In an alert issued on Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul advised citizens to avoid going to the airport and stated that those already at the boarding gate should leave immediately, citing unspecified “security threats.”
A Western diplomat based in Kabul said that despite warnings, the area outside the airport gate was once again “crowded.”
The White House said on Thursday that the United States and its allies carried out one of the largest aerial evacuation operations in history, evacuating approximately 95,700 people, including 13,400 on Wednesday.