The US Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Thursday said there had been a blast at Kabul airport’s eastern gate. He added that they are still unclear about casualties but claimed to provide details as they become available.
US and allied officials have said they had intelligence that suicide bombers were threatening to attack the airport. This blast came in the wake of the warnings issued by the Islamic State earlier in the day.
Explosion in the wake of US expedited evacuation efforts
The explosion came as thousands were in the proximity of the airport seeking to flee Afghanistan, with Western countries ramping up evacuation efforts as the pull out deadline — August 31 — approaches.
According to a white house official, US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the explosion. When the explosion was first reported Biden was in a meeting with the security officials about the precarious situation in Afghanistan, where the United States is at the stage when it is ramping its exit and ending its 20-year war.
The US has been racing to airlift its citizens and some Afghan citizens from Kabul before its as the August 31 deadline comes near and Taliban gave warnings of severe consequences if the deadline isn’t met.
The president warned that staying longer in Afghanistan carries serious risks for foreign troops and civilians. Biden said that ISIS-K, an Afghanistan-based affiliate of the terror group, presents a growing threat to the airport.
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians,” he said.
Since August 14, the day Taliban entered Kabul, the United States and its allies have evacuated about 95,700 people, the White House said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Britain’s defense ministry said it was working urgently to establish what had happened at Kabul airport following reports of the explosion.
Impact on ongoing evacuation efforts
“We are working urgently to establish what has happened in Kabul and its impact on the ongoing evacuation effort,” the defence ministry said on Twitter.
“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.”
As many as US troops may have been injured in the blast, an official told Reuters, citing initial information.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said two explosions occurred at the airport, but none of its troops had been injured.
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.
— Ministry of Defence Press Office (@DefenceHQPress) August 26, 2021