The Kabul airport carnage amid U.S. forces helping to evacuate Afghans desperate to flee new Taliban rule braced the US for more attacks on Friday. The Islamic State took responsibility of the attack which killed 85 people including 13 U.S. service members along with many wounded just outside Kabul airport.
The Kabul airport carnage exacerbated the already volatile situation in the country after the Taliban takeover. As thousands of Afghan national become desperate to flee the country, it is ironic that their fraught and anxiousness only mounted even after the deadly explosion.
Taliban thwarted some attacks, claimed McKenzie
General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said U.S. commanders were watching for more attacks by Islamic State, including possibly rockets or car bombs targeting the airport.
“We’re doing everything we can to be prepared,” McKenzie said, adding that due to some intelligence sharing with the Taliban he is positive that “some attacks have been thwarted by them”.
Thursday’s two blasts and gunfire took place near the airport gates where thousands of people have gathered to try to get inside the airport and onto evacuation flights since the Taliban took control of the country on Aug 15.
U.S. and allied forces are racing to complete evacuations of their citizens and vulnerable Afghans and to withdraw from Afghanistan by an Aug. 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden.
Islamic State (ISIS), an enemy of the Islamist Taliban as well as the West, said one of its suicide bombers had targeted “translators and collaborators with the American army”.
The attack underlined the realpolitik facing Western powers in Afghanistan: engaging with the Taliban who they have long sought to fend off may be their best chance to prevent the country sliding into a breeding ground for Islamist militancy.
Kabul bleeds profusely
A health official and a Taliban official said the toll of Afghans killed had risen to 72, including 28 Taliban members, although a Taliban spokesman later denied that any of their fighters guarding the airport perimeter had been killed.
It was not clear if suicide bombers detonated both blasts or if one was a planted bomb. It was also unclear if ISIS gunmen were involved in the attack or if the firing that followed the blasts was Taliban guards firing into the air to control crowds.
Video taken after the attack showed corpses in a waste water canal by the airport fence, some being fished out and laid in heaps while wailing civilians searched for loved ones. The social media is flooded with heart-wrenching images of the dead and wounded.