At least 13 people were killed in an attack on Kabul’s airport amid a huge and chaotic evacuation effort from Afghanistan on Thursday (August 26), a Taliban official said.
The Pentagon said there were at least two explosions with civilians and U.S. service members among the casualties of what was described as a “complex attack.”
An eyewitness said it was a ‘strong and powerful suicide attack’ that killed many, including Americans. Another estimated that more than 100 people had been wounded and at least 50 people had been killed in the attack.
The Taliban official said the victims included children and many Taliban guards were wounded.
The Pentagon said one blast occurred near the airport’s Abbey Gate and the other close to the nearby Baron Hotel. Two U.S. officials said at least one of the explosions appeared to be from a suicide bombing.
A U.S. official told Reuters as many as three U.S. service members were among those hurt, and that U.S. casualty numbers were expected to increase, according to initial information. At least one of the U.S. personnel was seriously hurt, an official said.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul described “a large explosion” and said there had been reports of gunfire.
The attacks came after the United States and allies urged Afghans to leave the area because of a threat by Islamic State.
In an alert issued on Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul had advised citizens to avoid travelling to the airport and said those already at the gates should leave immediately, citing unspecified “security threats.”
A Western diplomat in Kabul said that areas outside the airport gates had been “incredibly crowded” again despite the warnings.