Multiple explosions went off near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday days before the United States expected to withdraw forces from Afghanistan.
The Pentagon confirmed one explosion just outside the airport’s Abbey gate Thursday morning. Fox News correspondent Jen Griffin reported another explosion immediately after at Kabul’s Baron Hotel, which has been a gathering place for Americans waiting to be evacuated from the country.
“We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby posted on Twitter.
We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can.
— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 26, 2021
NEW: @JenGriffinFNC One explosion reported near Barron hotel – where Americans in past have gathered for rescue.
This makes two confirmed explosions
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) August 26, 2021
“A U.S. military official confirmed that at least one explosion had occurred at the Abbey Gate, a main entryway to the international airport. Early reports indicated that the explosion was caused by at least one suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest. It was unclear how many people were injured or whether anyone was killed, but large crowds have been gathering at the gate in recent days,” The New York Times reported.
“Elsewhere in the city, sporadic gunfire and alarms could heard from the airport,” the outlet added.
An ISIS suicide bomber is responsible for the Abbey Gate explosion, U.S. officials told Politico.
The attacks come as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan and end a weeks-long rush to evacuate Americans and Afghan visa holders. The total number of injuries remains unclear; however, a preliminary report indicates that at least 13 people are dead and numerous injured from the bombings.
Earlier on Thursday, multiple countries suspended evacuation operations over terror threats reported near the airport. Thousands of Afghans and westerners have gathered outside the perimeter of the airport over the weeks since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, toppling the Afghan government and forcing the president to flee the country. Desperate Afghans have crowded around the airport attempting to catch a flight out of the country over fear of the coming Taliban rule.
Islamic State-affiliated terrorists have been reported to be in the area, setting off security alerts among U.S. officials. On Wednesday, the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan sent out an alert to Americans still in the country, warning them to stay away from the airport.
“Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the alert said.
On Tuesday, Biden rebuffed calls from U.S. allies and declined to extend the August 31 deadline for U.S. forces in Afghanistan over security risks and the need for cooperation from the Taliban for further evacuations.
“The sooner we can finish, the better,” Biden said during an address as the White House. “Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that [Islamic State-affiliate] ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport, attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians.”
“Thus far, the Taliban have been taking steps to work with us so we can get our people out,” he said. “But it’s a tenuous situation. We’ve already had some gun fighting break out. We run a serious risk of it breaking down, as time goes on.”