At least 12 US servicemen and 90 Afghan civilians have reportedly been killed in an apparent explosion at Kabul International Airport, the head of the US Central Command told reporters at a press briefing this afternoon. Among the dead are 11 Marines and one Navy medic in what has since been recognized as the deadliest day for the U.S military since 2011.
Eyewitness accounts suggest dozens were also injured by the blast which occurred at the airport’s Abbey Gate entrance. A further explosion was recorded at the nearby Baron Hotel, where UK relocation applicants have been processed.
According to General Kenneth McKenzie, the Islamic State group (ISIS) is likely to blame for the attack, warning “if we can find who is associated with this, we will go after them…ISIS will not deter us from accomplishing the mission.”
Earlier this afternoon, the so-called Islamic State claimed credit for both incidents, confirming a suicide bombing and providing a photo the bomber via the terrorist group’s Amaq News Agency.
Following a translation from SITE intelligence group, Amaq News Agency issued a report on the attack and provided a photo of the bomber, claiming the bomber reached a distance of “no more than five meters from the American forces before detonating the belt, killing 60 and wounding over 100 others.”
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has pledged to continue evacuating UK civilians from Kabul despite the “barbaric” attacks. The UK hopes to finish its mission at the end of the weekend in order to leave enough time to fly army personnel and embassy employees, who have played an active part in the evacuation efforts, home. Before today, speculation had suggested ‘Operation Pitting’, which has seen more than 11,000 Afghans evacuated from Kabul since 13th August, would be cancelled earlier than expected.
US President. Joe Biden told a press conference convened at 22:00 (GMT) “we will complete our mission and we will continue, after the troops are withdrawn, to define means by which we can find any American that wants to get out of Afghanistan.”
Reports have suggested 2000 Afghan interpreters and others who worked for the British government are still in Kabul awaiting resettlement, just a few days before the “red line” deadline of August 31st, amid growing threats of further terrorist attacks.