Twin suicide attacks near Kabul airport kill dozens, wound over 70; ISIS hand suspected

Twin suicide attacks near Kabul airport kill dozens, wound over 70; ISIS hand suspected

The attacks came after the United States and its allies urged Afghans to leave the area because of a threat from Islamic State.

Twin explosions rocked the Afghanistan capital of Kabul on Thursday evening causing a bloodbath among civilians and members of the US security forces deployed in the area and wounding close to 70. The US described the blasts as a ‘result of a complex attack’, and confirmed there were US casualties.

The Pentagon said “a number" of American service members were killed. One U.S. official said according to initial reports at least 10 had died, Reuters reported.

The Taliban, who are currently in control of Afghanistan after a bloody and violent siege, condemned the twin explosions and clarified that the area was being secured by the US troops.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his group strongly condemns Thursday’s attack and is paying close attention to security. The attack was believed to be carried out by Afghanistan’s Islamic State group affiliate, which is separate from and more radical than the Taliban.

Twin suicide attacks near Kabul airport kill dozens, wound over 70; ISIS hand suspected
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The toll could be anywhere ‘between 13 and 20’, reported AFP quoting a Taliban spokesperson, while local media pegged the number of deaths at over 40.

There was no official death toll of Afghan civilians but video images uploaded by Afghan journalists showed dozens of bodies of people killed in packed crowds outside the airport.

A watery ditch by the airport fence was filled with bloodsoaked corpses, some being fished out and laid in heaps on the canal side while wailing civilians searched for loved ones.

Several Western countries said the airlift of civilians was now effectively over, with the United States having sealed the gates of the airport leaving no way out for tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for the West through two decades of war.

Local media reported that there appeared to have been two separate but simultaneous attacks, one by a suicide bomber near buses lined up outside the Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate, where the blast was followed by a small arms fire.

The second occurred at Baron Gate, named after the nearby Baron Hotel. Eyewitnesses say children were among the casualties. This claim was also corroborated by the horrifying visuals of blood and gore showing mounds of bodies flung around the blast site.

“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties. We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate. We will continue to update," US Pentagon Press Secretary Kirby said.

India also condemned the Kabul blasts, and said they reinforce need to stand united against terror, those who shelter terrorists

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts, but top government sources in India told CNN-News18 that ISIS could be behind the deadly attack. The US also seemed to concur with this theory. US officials said they strongly believe the ISIS-Khorasan group was behind the attack.

A second U.S. government source familiar with intelligence activities said that while the US government is still investigating, the airport attack has “all the hallmarks" of an ISIS-K attack.

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The Taliban too did not identify the attackers, but a spokesman described it as the work of “evil circles" who would be suppressed once the foreign troops leave.

The attacks came after the United States and its allies urged Afghans to leave the area because of a threat from Islamic State.

In an alert issued on Wednesday, the US Embassy in Kabul had advised citizens to avoid travelling to the airport and said those already at the gates should leave immediately, citing unspecified “security threats."

A Western diplomat in Kabul said that areas outside the airport gates had been “incredibly crowded" again despite the warnings.

A massive airlift of foreign nationals and their families, as well as some Afghans, has been underway since the day before Taliban forces captured Kabul on Aug. 15, capping a swift advance across the country as US and allied troops withdrew.

The United States has been racing to carry out the airlift before its military is set to fully withdraw from the country by Aug. 31. There was no indication from the White House that Biden plans to change the Aug. 31 withdrawal target as a result of the attacks, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

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FIRST PUBLISHED:AUGUST 26, 2021, 07:51 IST

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