At least two explosions have been reported near the Abbey Gate, being used for evacuations at Kabul airport. One blast was near the Baron Hotel, being used as a staging post by Western nations for evacuations.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed there had been a "number of US and civilian casualties" in the attack.
The Guardian has yet to confirm this figure but we will be updating on this as soon as we get confirmation.
At least 13 have been killed but multiple sources are reporting higher figures.
The prime suspect for the suicide bombing at Kabul airport is the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).
Many have been worried by an intensification of attacks linked to ISKP in recent months, writes Jason Burke.
Today’s attacks have raised further concerns about the Taliban’s capability to govern Afghanistan with the threat of a resurgent extremist groups a particular concern in recent months.
Many have been worried by an intensification of attacks linked to ISKP.
“The trajectory of ISKP has been one of resurgence after a tough time in 2019 and the first half of 2020 … but they went silent suddenly since the Taliban takeover and a possible reason for that was the group were gearing up for a new campaign,” said Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at London University’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR).
At least 13 people have been killed in two powerful explosions outside Kabul’s international airport, amid a huge and chaotic evacuation effort from Afghanistan.
A “complex attack” on Thursday at the airport in Afghanistan’s capital caused a number of US and civilian casualties, the Pentagon said.
A Taliban official and Russian officials confirmed at least 13 people were killed in the explosions. The Taliban official said children were among the dead and that several other people were wounded in the blasts.
The city’s main Emergency Hospital said on Twitter that at least 60 wounded people were transferred to their facility so far.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said one blast occurred near the airport’s Abbey Gate and the other close to the nearby Baron Hotel. Two US officials said at least one of the explosions appeared to be from a suicide bombing.
“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,” Kirby said on Twitter. “We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”
Sources told Al Jazeera that tens of thousands of people had been waiting outside the Abbey Gate earlier in the day. The explosions came after US officials and allies had warned people not to come to the area around Hamid Karzai International due to the threat of an attack.
US officials strongly believe the Afghan affiliate of the ISIL (ISIS), known as the Islamic State Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), was behind the attack, a source familiar with congressional briefings on Afghanistan said.
A second US government source familiar with intelligence activities said that while the US government is still investigating, the airport attack has “all the hallmarks” of an ISKP attack.
ISKP is opposed by the US and the Taliban.
Russian officials said two suicide bombers and gunmen had targeted crowds massing near the Kabul airport.
There were chaotic scenes outside the Emergency Hospital as dozens of cars and ambulances brought in the wounded including the elderly and children.
Warnings issued Several countries urged people to avoid the airport earlier in the day, with one saying there was a threat of a bombing. But just days – or even hours for some nations – before the evacuation effort ends, few appeared to heed the call.
Overnight, warnings emerged from Western capitals about a threat from Afghanistan’s ISIL group affiliate, which likely has seen its ranks boosted by the Taliban’s freeing of prisoners during their blitz across the country.
British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC early Thursday there was ”very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack” at the airport, possibly within “hours”.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said his country had received information from the US and other countries about the “threat of suicide attacks on the mass of people”.
The acting US ambassador to Kabul, Ross Wilson, said the security threat at the Kabul airport overnight was “clearly regarded as credible, as imminent, as compelling”.
U.S. officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies to grant entry into the militant-controlled outer perimeter of the city’s airport, a choice that's prompted outrage behind the scenes from lawmakers and military officials.
The move, detailed to POLITICO by three U.S. and congressional officials, was designed to expedite the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan as chaos erupted in Afghanistan’s capital city last week after the Taliban seized control of the country. It also came as the Biden administration has been relying on the Taliban for security outside the airport.
Since the fall of Kabul in mid-August, nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated, most of whom had to pass through the Taliban's many checkpoints. But the decision to provide specific names to the Taliban, which has a history of brutally murdering Afghans who collaborated with the U.S. and other coalition forces during the conflict, has angered lawmakers and military officials.
“Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,” said one defense official, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.”
Asked about POLITICO's reporting during a Thursday news conference, President Joe Biden said he wasn't sure there were such lists, but also didn't deny that sometimes the U.S. hands over names to the Taliban.
"There have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this, for example, this bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through," he said. "So, yes there have been occasions like that. To the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred and they have been let through.
"I can't tell you with any certitude that there's actually been a list of names," he added. "There may have been. But I know of no circumstance. It doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, that here's the names of 12 people, they're coming, let them through. It could very well have happened."
A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command declined to comment.
Psaki: U.S. Troops Still In Danger in Kabul as Drawdown Continues
Large crowds milled around Kabul’s international airport on Friday despite repeated warnings of more terrorist attacks, a day after 13 U.S. service members and at least 75 Afghan citizens died in what the Pentagon now says was a single suicide bombing rather than the two previously reported.
The window for civilian evacuations has all but closed for thousands of Afghans as many countries have either ended or are about to end airlift operations on security concerns.
President Joe Biden vowed to complete the U.S. evacuation mission in Afghanistan and pledged to go after the attackers, saying Thursday evening that “we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay.”
A Taliban official said 75 Afghans were killed and about 150 wounded in the airport violence, while the Associated Press quoted unnamed officials as saying at least 95 Afghans had died.