At least two explosions left several victims at the international airport in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, this Thursday (26). NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) confirmed that it was a terrorist attack and the Taliban condemned the attack (see below).
The Pentagon speaks of a “complex attack”, confirms at least two explosions and says there are “several victims”, without saying how many or whether they are killed or injured. The Russian Foreign Ministry released the first official count of casualties: 13 dead and 15 wounded.
Video: See footage of injured after explosion outside the airport
Hamid Karzai International Airport is the country’s only exit point for thousands of foreigners and Afghans desperately trying to board the withdrawal flights organized by Western countries (see below).
“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in several American and civilian casualties,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. “We can confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from the Abbey gate.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “vehemently condemns the horrific terrorist attack outside Kabul airport”. “Our priority remains to evacuate as many people to a safe location as quickly as possible.”
Map identifies area of explosions near Kabul airport on August 26, 2021 — Photo: Art G1
Two US government sources told Reuters news agency that at least one of the explosions appeared to have been a suicide bombing.
A US official told the Associated Press that “definitely believes” that the attack was carried out by the Islamic state, a terrorist group that is more radical than the Taliban and that criticized the peace agreement responsible for the foreign withdrawal from Afghanistan (see below).
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that “the Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul airport, which took place in an area where US forces are responsible for security”.
Injured man transported on stretcher after two strong explosions at Kabul airport, Afghanistan, Aug 26, 2021 — Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP
VIDEO: Explosion victims at Kabul airport arrive at hospital
‘Imminent’ risk of attack
The President of the USA, Joe Biden, was informed of the attack during a meeting with security authorities about the situation in Afghanistan, according to Reuters.
Earlier, the US, UK and Australia warned of the risk of an “imminent” attack at the site and asked their citizens to immediately leave the airport area due to a terrorist threat.
“The information obtained over the week is increasingly serious and refers to an imminent and serious threat,” British Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, earlier said. “It’s a very serious threat, very imminent.”
Among the threats were a possible attack by the Islamic State (see more at the end of the text).
Afghanistan: even with terrorist threat, crowd remains at Kabul airport
Hamid Karzai International Airport is the country’s only gateway for foreigners and Afghans. Nearly 90,000 people have been evacuated since the Taliban regained power on 15 August, but a crowd still gathers in and around the site, including in ditches (see the video below).
According to The New York Times, at least 250,000 Afghans who worked for the US have not yet been removed from the country — and the current evacuation rate is not enough to evacuate everyone by Tuesday (31).
The deadline was set by US President Joe Biden in early July, who refused requests from allies to delay the definitive exit from Afghanistan. The Taliban has repeatedly said that it would not accept an extension of the deadline.
VIDEO: People in ditch try to board one of the planes leaving Kabul, Afghanistan
Threat from the Islamic State
Among the reasons given by Biden for denying the request was the “acute” terrorist threat from the regional wing of the Islamic State terrorist group, responsible for some of the most violent attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years.
The terrorist group has carried out attacks on mosques, shrines, squares and even hospitals in both countries, as well as attacks against Muslims from wards it considers to be heretics, such as the Shiites.
“Every day, operations pose an additional risk to our troops,” the US president said, citing the likelihood of an Islamic State attack in Kabul. “The Taliban’s number 1 enemy targets the airport to attack US and Allied forces as well as innocent civilians.”
While the Islamic State and the Taliban are radical Sunnis, the two extremist groups are rivals.
The Islamic State criticized the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in 2020, who established the guidelines for the withdrawal of foreign troops, and accused the Taliban of abandoning the jihadist cause.