An explosion at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai international airport on Thursday killed at least 12 U.S. service members and an unknown number of Afghans as thousands remain in and outside the airport attempting to leave now Taliban-governed country.
Eleven Marines and one Navy medic were killed in the attack, which occurred at the Abbey gate at the airport, and there was a second explosion near the Baron Hotel, which is near the airport and has been a gathering place for U.S. citizens trying to get out of the country.
The attacks came from individuals detonating a suicide vest. Prior to the attacks on Wednesday, embassy staff had warned people to stay away from the airport gates.
The Taliban and the Russian government both reported that 13 people were killed after the attack. Dozens of Americans were reportedly wounded in the attacks, and officials said that the death toll could rise.
More attacks possible
The attack was attributed to ISIS-K, a terrorist group operating throughout Afghanistan. Commander of the U.S. Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said during a news briefing that there have been numerous credible threats of attacks in recent days and that threats continue.
Some roads have been closed in an attempt to avoid vehicle-based attacks, McKenzie said.
The Taliban has mostly stopped letting Afghans through airport gates, and are still mostly letting Americans through, but that some are staying away because of the threats, a source told Fox News. McKenzie said that the Taliban have been “helpful” in providing security and protection for Americans.
“Military continues to retrograde and depart airport. Almost a certainty that Americans will be left behind,” the source said. “They will have to be extracted after-the-fact through either Taliban negotiation or unconventional means.”
Deadline still stands
McKenzie gave no indication that the standing August 31 deadline for complete military withdrawal will be extended because of the attacks. He said that the mission would continue and that the plan was made taking stressful and dangerous conditions into account.
As news of the deadly terror attacks in Afghanistan hit Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) left town as the House wrapped up its business for the week, and the Senate was already not in session.
Pelosi has not spoken much about Afghanistan this week, pushing through plans for another $3.5 trillion in non-military spending.
The Biden administration said Wednesday that about 1,500 Americans remain in Afghanistan.