WORLD NEWS

12 U.S. Service Members Killed In Explosions Outside Kabul's Airport

Published on August 26, 2021 12:38 PM

by The Oregon Herald Staff

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The 2-year-old daughter of an interpreter for an American company was trampled to death Witnesses described seeing people being killed in the crush in scorching temperatures at Kabul airport.
 
12 U.S. service members and more than 60 Afghans were killed in explosions at the Kabul airport. Two blasts ripped through crowds trying to enter the American-controlled facility on Thursday, disrupting the final push of the U.S.-led evacuation effort.

The bomb attack was followed by an assault by gunmen from Islamic State's regional affiliate, according to the Pentagon. Fifteen U.S. service members were injured, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. plans to continue with its evacuation of U.S. citizens and allied Afghans, Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters Thursday. He said the U.S. estimates that around 1,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan.

"We expect those attacks to continue," Gen. McKenzie said, referring to suicide bombings. He said the U.S. would communicate with the Taliban about security outside the airport gates.

"If we can find who is associated with this, we will go after them," Gen McKenzie said.

Among those killed are 11 U.S. Marines and one Navy corpsman, The Associated Press reports.

At least 60 people are wounded, according to Emergency, a trauma center in Kabul.

The attack is "definitely believed" to have been carried out by the Islamic State group, a U.S. official told AP.

At a Pentagon news conference Thursday, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of Central Command, said 12 U.S. service members were killed and 15 were injured in today's attack at the Kabul airport.

Many Afghans were also killed and injured, but McKenzie did not provide numbers. He didn't blame ISIS-K, but said the threat from the group is "very real."

About 104,000 have been evacuated from Afghanistan, including nearly 5,000 Americans, he added.

Taliban sources told NBC News that 13 people including children were killed in what they described as a suicide attack. Russia's Foreign Ministry gave the same death toll.

The explosions came hours after the United States and its allies had warned of a potential terror attack at the airport as thousands gathered in a desperate effort to flee after the Taliban's takeover of the country.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Twitter that there was an initial blast outside the airport's Abbey Gate and "at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel," a short distance away.

Wounded women arrive at a hospital for treatment after two blasts, which killed at least five and wounded a dozen, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021.

U.S. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central command, promised action against those responsible.

"Yes, if we can find who's associated with this, we will go after them," McKenzie told reporters at a news conference at the Pentagon. "We've been clear all along that we retain the right to operate against ISIS in Afghanistan."

He added, "We're prepared to take action against them, 24/7, we are looking for them."

While it was not immediately clear who was behind the explosions, two U.S. intelligence officials said the assumption is that the Islamic State group's Afghan affiliate, ISIS-K, carried out an IED attack.

The Taliban had "started investigations on different levels to identify perpetrators of this terrorist incident and their motives," a spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, said.

Western countries in recent days had urged people to avoid traveling to the area, in the latest setback for the massive airlift out of Kabul, the Afghan capital. Some countries said after the explosions that they would have to end evacuation efforts.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg condemned what he called a "horrific terrorist attack."

"My thoughts are with all those affected and their loved ones. Our priority remains to evacuate as many people to safety as quickly as possible," he said on Twitter.

The airport has been a flashpoint for violent and chaotic scenes since the Taliban took control of Kabul on Aug.15. Over the weekend, U.S. defense officials warned about specific threats against those trying to leave Afghanistan.