American forces keep up airlift under high threat warnings

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By SAYED ZIARMAL HASHEMI, LOLITA C. BALDOR, KATHY GANNON and ELLEN KNICKMEYER

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — American forces moving nether heightened information and threats of different onslaught pressed up successful the closing days of the U.S.-led evacuation from Afghanistan aft a devastating termination bombing, and U.S. officials said they had killed a subordinate of the extremist radical that the United States believes liable for it.

A U.S. drone onslaught aboriginal Saturday successful eastbound Afghanistan killed a subordinate of the country’s Islamic State affiliate, U.S. Central Command said. President Joe Biden has laid work for Thursday’s termination bombing connected that offshoot extremist radical which is an force some to the West and to Afghanistan’s Taliban and is known for particularly lethal attacks.

The decease toll successful Thursday’s termination bombing roseate to 169 Afghans, a fig that could summation arsenic authorities analyse fragmented remains, and 13 U.S. work members.

U.S. Central Command said American officials believed the militant killed successful Saturday’s drone onslaught had been progressive successful readying strikes against the United States successful Kabul, and that determination were nary different known casualties successful the drone strike.

The U.S. retaliation comes amid a dependable travel of grim warnings from the White House and the Pentagon that determination could beryllium much extremist attacks targeting U.S. forces up of President Joe Biden’s fast-approaching deadline Tuesday to extremity the airlift and retreat American personnel.

The adjacent fewer days “will beryllium our astir unsafe play to date” successful the evacuation, White House property caput Jen Psaki said, hours earlier the U.S. issued a information alert for 4 of the airdrome gates.

Thursday’s bombing marked 1 of the astir lethal attacks the state has seen. The U.S. said it was the deadliest time for American forces successful Afghanistan since 2011.

As the telephone to supplication echoed Friday done Kabul on with the roar of departing planes, the anxious crowds thronging the airdrome successful anticipation of escaping Taliban regularisation appeared arsenic ample arsenic ever, contempt the scenes of victims lying intimately packed unneurotic successful the aftermath of the bombing.

Around the world, recently arriving Afghan evacuees, galore clutching babies and bare handfuls of belongings successful integrative bags, stepped disconnected evacuation flights successful the United States, successful Albania, successful Belgium and beyond. In Kabul connected Friday, Afghan families looked for loved ones among bodies, placed on a infirmary sidewalk for identification, of bombing victims who died pleading for a spot connected the U.S.-run airlifts.

Afghans, American citizens and different foreigners were each acutely alert the model was closing to get retired via the airlift.

Jamshad went to the airdrome Friday with his woman and 3 tiny children. He clutched an invitation to a Western state helium didn’t privation to identify.

“After the detonation I decided I would try. Because I americium acrophobic present determination volition beryllium much attacks, and I deliberation present I person to leave,” said Jamshad, who similar galore Afghans uses lone 1 name.

The Pentagon said Friday that determination was conscionable 1 termination bomber — astatine the airdrome gross — not two, arsenic U.S. officials initially said. A U.S. authoritative said that the termination bomber carried a heavier-than-usual load of astir 25 pounds of explosives, loaded with shrapnel.

The U.S. authoritative spoke connected information of anonymity to sermon preliminary assessments of the attack. The officials who gave the Afghan decease toll besides spoke connected information of anonymity due to the fact that they were not authorized to speech to the media.

The Afghan victims ranged from a hard-working young writer to an impoverished father, driven to to the airdrome by hopes of a amended life.

The American dormant were 11 Marines, a Navy sailor and an Army soldier. Many had been tiny children erstwhile U.S. forces archetypal entered Afghanistan successful 2001.

One, Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Mae’lee Grant Nikoui, sent a video to a household person successful the United States conscionable hours earlier helium was killed, showing himself smiling and greeting Afghan children.

“Want to instrumentality a video together, buddy?” Nikoui asked young boy, leaning successful to beryllium successful the representation with him. “All right, we’re heroes now, man.”

British officials said 2 of the country’s citizens and the kid of different Briton besides were among those killed erstwhile the weaponry exploded.

On the greeting aft the attack, the Taliban utilized a pickup motortruck afloat of fighters and 3 captured Humvees to acceptable up a obstruction 500 meters (1,600 feet) from the airport, holding the crowds farther backmost from the U.S. troops astatine the gates than before.

U.S. subject officials said that immoderate gates were closed and different information measures enactment successful place. They said determination were tighter restrictions astatine Taliban checkpoints and less radical astir the gates. The subject said it had besides asked the Taliban to adjacent definite roads due to the fact that of the anticipation of termination bombers successful vehicles.

The Pentagon said the U.S. would support up manned and unmanned flights implicit the airdrome for surveillance and protection, including the usage of AC-130 gunships.

U.S. officials said evacuees with due credentials inactive were being allowed done the gates. Inside, astir 5,400 evacuees awaited flights.

U.S. commanders had briefed Friday Biden connected processing plans to onslaught backmost astatine the Islamic State and marque bully connected the president’s vow to the attackers to “hunt you down and marque you pay.”

Biden pronounced the U.S. effort to evacuate Americans, Afghan allies and others astir astatine hazard from the Taliban a “worthy mission.”

“And we volition implicit the mission,” helium said.

The U.N. Security Council called the targeting of fleeing civilians and those trying to assistance them “especially abhorrent.”

The Taliban person wrested backmost power of Afghanistan 2 decades aft they were ousted successful a U.S.-led penetration pursuing the 9/11 attacks. Their instrumentality to powerfulness has terrified galore Afghans, who person rushed to fly the state up of the American withdrawal.

More than 100,000 radical person been safely evacuated done the Kabul airport, according to the U.S., but thousands much are struggling to permission successful 1 of history’s biggest airlifts.

The White House said Friday day that U.S. subject craft had flown retired 2,100 evacuees successful the erstwhile 24 hours. Another 2,100 radical near connected different conjugation flights.

The fig was a fraction of the 12,700 radical carried retired by U.S. subject craft 1 time aboriginal successful the week, erstwhile the present two-week-old airlift not lone met but exceeded intended capableness for a mates days.

France ended its ain evacuation effort and pulled up stakes connected a impermanent French embassy astatine the airport, leaving Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. U.S. allies and others person ended oregon are ending their airlifts, successful portion to springiness the U.S. clip to wrapper up its ain operations.

The Taliban person said they volition let Afghans to permission via commercialized flights aft the U.S. withdrawal, but it is unclear which airlines would instrumentality to an airdrome controlled by the militants.

Untold numbers of Afghans, particularly ones who had worked with the U.S. and different Western countries, are present successful hiding, fearing retaliation contempt the group’s connection of afloat amnesty.

The caller rulers person sought to task an representation of moderation successful caller weeks — a crisp opposition to the harsh regularisation they imposed from 1996 to 2001, erstwhile they forbade girls to get an education, banned tv and euphony and held nationalist executions.

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Akhgar reported from Istanbul, Gannon from Islamabad and Anna from Nairobi, Kenya. Darlene Superville successful Washington and Rahim Faiez successful Turkey and Elaine Ganley successful Paris contributed on with different Associated Press writers astir the world.

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More of AP’s Afghanistan coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan

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