26 Aug 2021: Explosion outside Kabul airport; 13 killed, including children, says Taliban
Over a week after the Taliban overthrew the government in Afghanistan, an explosion occurred outside the Kabul airport, the United States military confirmed on Thursday. A Taliban official said 13 people were killed, including children. The explosion comes shortly after Western countries issued coordinated warnings of a terror threat at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport, which is being used to evacuate people from Afghanistan.
Details: Can confirm explosion outside Kabul airport: Pentagon
John Kirby, the spokesperson for the US Department of Defense, said in a tweet, "We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can." Earlier, the US and its allies had cited intelligence inputs to report that there were threats of suicide bombers at the Kabul airport.
Fact: US confirms at least 2 explosions near airport's Abbey Gate
In later tweets, Kirby confirmed that a "complex attack" resulted in an explosion at the Abbey Gate, which led to US and civilian casualties. He also confirmed "at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel" near the Abbey Gate.
Casualties: 13 killed, including children: Taliban official
A Taliban official told Reuters that the explosion killed at least 13 people, including children. Although there has been no official count on the number of those injured, visuals from the scene showed several people bleeding and being rushed to the hospital. An Afghan waiting outside the airport, Adam Khan, told the Associated Press that several people appeared to have been killed or wounded.
Fact: Victims lost body parts, says eyewitness
Khan told AP that he was standing about 30 meters away from the blast site. After the explosion, several people appeared to have lost body parts, Khan said. Eyewitnesses told TOLOnews the blast was "powerful." Early reports said a suicide bomber caused the explosion.
Warnings: Western countries earlier warned of 'imminent attack within hours'
Earlier Thursday, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC that there was "very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack" within hours at the Kabul airport. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also said that the US and other countries had received inputs of an imminent suicide attack. The US had earlier indicated that the threat was from the Islamic State.
UK: Working urgently to establish what's happened: UK
The UK Ministry of Defense tweeted, "We are working urgently to establish what has happened in Kabul and its impact on the ongoing evacuation effort." "Our primary concern remains the safety of our personnel, British citizens, and the citizens of Afghanistan. We are in close contact with our US and other NATO allies at an operational level on the immediate response to this incident."
Taliban: Taliban had vowed not to attack Western forces during evacuation
The Taliban had earlier allowed foreign countries to evacuate their citizens through the Kabul airport by August 31. The group had pledged not to attack Western forces during the evacuation, but it had also expressed no willingness to extend the deadline. The suspicion currently falls on the Islamic State, which has likely seen its numbers grow as the Taliban freed prisoners across the country.
Recent news: US had earlier warned about Islamic State threat
In recent days, the US and other countries had warned their citizens to stay away from the Kabul airport, sensing a threat from the Islamic State. The UK had also urged its citizens to consider other routes to flee Afghanistan. However, huge crowds of Afghans and foreign nationals continued to gather in and around the airport in a bid to flee the Taliban's rule.
Recent news: Taliban tried dispersing crowds at airport today
Earlier Thursday, the Taliban had also sprayed the crowd at the airport with water cannons. Reports of teargas shelling had also emerged. While many fled, others stood firm, desperate to catch a flight out of Afghanistan. Reportedly, at least 20 people have died near the airport since August 15, when the Taliban took over Kabul and overthrew the Afghanistan government.
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