On Thursday, two suicide bombers and shooters have killed at least 110 people, including 13 U.S. soldiers outside Kabul airport. According to the officials, the two explosions and gunfire transformed the Hamid Karzai International Airport into a horror scene where U.S. forces were screening Afghan civilians outside the gates.
Gen. Frank McKenzie, the Head of U.S. Central Command, said they are bracing for more attacks as the threat from ISIS is extremely real. He added that this attack would not stop the U.S. from evacuating American citizens and others from Afghanistan. With intensified security at the airport and the use of alternate routes to bring in evacuees, McKenzie said that there are over 5000 people awaiting flights at the airport.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford also affirmed that evacuations have resumed, adding that the situation at the airport has gotten more dramatic after the attack. “We have witnessed thousands of people climbing up a wall there, desperate to get on the few remaining planes,” he said.
ISIL (ISIS) offshoot in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack, according to sources. The Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) said its suicide bombers targeted translators and collaborators with the American Army. “ISIS-K had a clear intention to disrupt our efforts to evacuate the tens of thousands of people,” Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, commented.
There had been multiple warnings from the Western officials of a potential bomb attack on civilians trying to get into the airport. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid denied that any attack was imminent. Before the blast, the Taliban launched tear gas canisters and water cannons at those gathered at the airport gate to drive the crowds away.
McKenzie, in his statement, said they are doing everything possible to be prepared, adding that they have already thwarted several attempted attacks. The Head of the U.S. Central Command further added that the U.S. commanders are looking for car bombs and even rockets that might target the airport.
U.S. President Joe Biden, who is facing backlash for the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, was directed by his national security team at the White House on Thursday. “The people we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, the service of others, in the service of America. We will retaliate with force and precision, at our time, at the place we choose, and at the moment of our choosing,” Biden said to the attackers. He firmly added that despite the attack, the withdrawal would continue.
“We will hunt you down and make you pay,” the U.S. President added.