Kabul airport attack kills 60 Afghans, 13 US troops

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By SAYED ZIARMAL HASHEMI, RAHIM FAIEZ, LOLITA C. BALDOR and JOSEPH KRAUSS

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Two termination bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul’s airdrome Thursday, transforming a country of desperation into 1 of fearfulness successful the waning days of an airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover. The attacks killed astatine slightest 60 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops, Afghan and U.S. officials said.

The U.S. wide overseeing the evacuation said the attacks would not halt the United States from evacuating Americans and others, and flights retired were continuing. Gen. Frank McKenzie, caput of U.S. Central Command, said determination was a ample magnitude of information astatine the airport, and alternate routes were being utilized to get evacuees in. About 5,000 radical were awaiting flights connected the airfield, McKenzie said.

The blasts came hours aft Western officials warned of a large attack, urging radical to permission the airport. But that proposal went mostly unheeded by Afghans hopeless to flight the state successful the past fewer days of an American-led evacuation earlier the U.S. officially ends its 20-year beingness connected Aug. 31.

The Islamic State radical claimed work for the killings connected its Amaq quality channel. The IS affiliate successful Afghanistan is acold much extremist than the Taliban, who precocious took power of the state successful a lightning blitz. The Taliban were not believed to person been progressive successful the attacks and condemned the blasts.

In an affectional code from the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden said the latest bloodshed would not thrust the U.S. retired of Afghanistan earlier than scheduled, and that helium had instructed the U.S. subject to make plans to onslaught IS.

“We volition not forgive. We volition not forget. We volition hunt you down and marque you pay,” Biden said.

U.S. officials initially said 11 Marines and 1 Navy medic were among those who died. Another work subordinate died hours later. Eighteen work members were wounded and officials warned the toll could grow. More than 140 Afghans were wounded, an Afghan authoritative said.

One of the bombers struck radical lasting knee-deep successful a wastewater canal nether the sweltering sun, throwing bodies into the fetid water. Those who moments earlier had hoped to get connected flights retired could beryllium seen carrying the wounded to ambulances successful a daze, their ain apparel darkened with blood.

Emergency, an Italian foundation that operates hospitals successful Afghanistan, said it had received astatine slightest 60 patients wounded successful the airdrome attack, successful summation to 10 who were dormant erstwhile they arrived.

“Surgeons volition beryllium moving into the night,” said Marco Puntin, the charity’s manager successful Afghanistan. The wounded overflowed the triage portion into the physiotherapy country and much beds were being added, helium said.

The Afghan authoritative who confirmed the wide Afghan toll spoke connected information of anonymity due to the fact that helium was not authorized to little media.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said 1 detonation was adjacent an airdrome entranceway and different was a abbreviated region distant by a hotel. McKenzie said intelligibly immoderate nonaccomplishment astatine the airdrome allowed a termination bomber to get truthful adjacent to the gate.

He said the Taliban has been screening radical extracurricular the gates, though determination was nary denotation that the Taliban deliberately allowed Thursday’s attacks to happen. He said the U.S. has asked Taliban commanders to tighten information astir the airport’s perimeter.

Adam Khan was waiting adjacent erstwhile helium saw the archetypal detonation extracurricular what’s known arsenic the Abbey gate. He said respective radical appeared to person been killed oregon wounded, including immoderate who were maimed.

The 2nd blast was astatine oregon adjacent Baron Hotel, wherever galore people, including Afghans, Britons and Americans, were told to stitchery successful caller days earlier heading to the airdrome for evacuation. Additional explosions could beryllium heard later, but Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said immoderate blasts were carried retired by U.S. forces to destruct their equipment.

A erstwhile Royal Marine who runs an carnal structure successful Afghanistan says helium and his unit were caught up successful the aftermath of the blast adjacent the airport.

“All of a abrupt we heard gunshots and our conveyance was targeted, had our operator not turned astir helium would person been changeable successful the caput by a antheral with an AK-47,” Paul “Pen” Farthing told Britain’s Press Association quality agency.

Farthing is trying to get unit of his Nowzad foundation retired of Afghanistan, on with the group’s rescued animals.

He is among thousands trying to flee. Over the past week, the airdrome has been the country of immoderate of the astir searing images of the chaotic extremity of America’s longest warfare and the Taliban’s takeover, arsenic formation aft formation took disconnected carrying those who fearfulness a instrumentality to the militants’ brutal rule. When the Taliban were past successful power, they confined women mostly to their location and wide imposed draconian restrictions.

Already, immoderate countries person ended their evacuations and begun to retreat their soldiers and diplomats, signaling the opening of the extremity of 1 of history’s largest airlifts. The Taliban person insisted overseas troops indispensable beryllium retired by America’s self-imposed deadline of Aug. 31 — and the evacuations indispensable extremity then, too.

Even so, the airlift continued Thursday, though the fig of evacuees fell for a 2nd time arsenic the panic onslaught and further threats kept radical away.. From 3 a.m. to 3 p.m., Washington time, astir 7,500 radical were evacuated, a White House authoritative said. Fourteen U..S. subject flights carried astir 5,100, and 39 conjugation flights carried 2,400.

The full compared to 19,000 successful 1 24-hour play toward the commencement of the week.

In Washington, Biden spent overmuch of the greeting successful the unafraid White House Situation Room wherever helium was briefed connected the explosions and conferred with his nationalist information squad and commanders connected the crushed successful Kabul.

Overnight, warnings emerged from Western capitals astir a menace from IS, which has seen its ranks boosted by the Taliban’s freeing of prisoners during its beforehand done Afghanistan.

Shortly earlier the attack, the acting U.S. ambassador to Kabul, Ross Wilson, said the information menace astatine the Kabul airdrome overnight was “clearly regarded arsenic credible, arsenic imminent, arsenic compelling.” But successful an interrogation with ABC News, helium would not springiness details.

Late Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy warned citizens astatine 3 airdrome gates to permission instantly owed to an unspecified information threat. Australia, Britain and New Zealand besides advised their citizens Thursday not to spell to the airport.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid denied that immoderate onslaught was imminent astatine the airport, wherever the group’s fighters person deployed and occasionally utilized heavy-handed tactics to power the crowds. After the attack, helium appeared to shirk blame, noting the airdrome is controlled by U.S. troops.

Before the blast, the Taliban sprayed a h2o cannon astatine those gathered astatine 1 airdrome gross to effort to thrust the assemblage away, arsenic idiosyncratic launched teardrop state canisters elsewhere.

Nadia Sadat, a 27-year-old Afghan, carried her 2-year-old girl with her extracurricular the airport. She and her husband, who had worked with conjugation forces, missed a telephone from a fig they believed was the State Department and were trying to get into the airdrome without immoderate luck. Her hubby had pressed up successful the assemblage to effort to get them inside.

“We person to find a mode to evacuate due to the fact that our lives are successful danger,” Sadat said. “My hubby received respective threatening messages from chartless sources. We person nary accidental but escaping.”

Aman Karimi, 50, escorted his girl and her household to the airport, fearful the Taliban would people her due to the fact that of her husband’s enactment with NATO.

“The Taliban person already begun seeking those who person worked with NATO,” helium said. “They are looking for them house-by-house astatine night.”

The Sunni extremists of IS, with links to the group’s much well-known affiliate successful Syria and Iraq, person carried retired a bid of brutal attacks, chiefly targeting Afghanistan’s Shiite Muslim minority, including a 2020 battle connected a maternity infirmary successful Kabul successful which they killed women and infants.

The Taliban person fought against Islamic State militants successful Afghanistan, wherever the Taliban person wrested backmost power astir 20 years aft they were ousted successful a U.S.-led invasion. The Americans went successful pursuing the 9/11 attacks, which al-Qaida orchestrated portion being sheltered by the group.

Amid the warnings and the pending American withdrawal, Canada ended its evacuations, and European nations halted oregon prepared to halt their ain operations.

The Taliban person said they’ll let Afghans to permission via commercialized flights aft the deadline adjacent week, but it remains unclear which airlines would instrumentality to an airdrome controlled by the militants. Turkish statesmanlike spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said talks were underway betwixt his state and the Taliban astir allowing Turkish civilian experts to assistance tally the facility.

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Faiez reported from Istanbul, Baldor reported from Washington and Krauss from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Jill Lawless successful London; Jon Gambrell successful Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Sylvie Corbet successful Paris; Jan M. Olsen from Copenhagen, Denmark; Rahim Faiez, Tameem Akhgar and Andrew Wilks successful Istanbul; James LaPorta successful Boca Raton, Florida; Mike Corder astatine The Hague, Netherlands; Philip Crowther successful Islamabad; Colleen Barry successful Milan; and Aamer Madhani, Matthew Lee and Robert Burns successful Washington contributed to this report.

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