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Several U.S. Troops, Afghans Killed in Afghanistan Airport Blasts

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Two explosions outside Kabul’s international airport caused at least 13 deaths, including some American troops, and wounded dozens of others less than a week before U.S. forces are due to depart.

“We can confirm that a number of U.S. service members were killed in today’s complex attack at Kabul airport,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a tweet. “A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack.”

The deaths of U.S. troops, after more than 100,000 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan in the past two weeks, will significantly raise the pressure on President Joe Biden to decide if he sticks with his Aug. 31 deadline to get all American forces out, and to explain why the U.S. appeared to be caught off guard by the Afghan government’s sudden collapse.

In addition to the U.S. troops, at least 13 Afghans were killed and 52 others wounded, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said by phone.

Kirby called the blast outside the Abbey Gate a “complex attack,” without providing details. It came after U.S. and NATO officials warned their citizens to avoid heading toward the airport. A U.S. official said flights departing Kabul have been temporarily halted.

Asked earlier Thursday about the potential for terrorist acts, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cited Islamic State – Khorasan, an Afghan affiliate of the extremist group which has fought against the Taliban.

“I can’t go into the details, clearly. But we have to be mindful of the security of our personnel, but also of the Afghan people who are trying to get out,” Johnson said.

The attack came as North Atlantic Treaty Organization-member nations began winding down evacuations.

Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium announced they were no longer organizing flights from Kabul’s airport. With U.S. President Joe Biden sticking to his Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline, the window for airlifts is closing fast.

About 101,000 people have been evacuated by the U.S. and allies. Secretary of State Antony Blinken estimated Wednesday that about 1,500 Americans were still in Afghanistan, along with other foreigners.

The Taliban blamed the U.S., which is directing a military-led evacuation from Kabul, for drawing large crowds to the airport perimeter. Mujahed said an investigation into who was behind the attack is continuing, though many analysts said an offshoot of Islamic State — an enemy of both the Taliban and the U.S. — could be to blame.

“We strongly condemn this lethal attack which happened at an area of Kabul airport which is under the control of Americans,” Mujahed said. “They are responsible for the security of the area.”

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