Several people are feared to be dead in two suspected suicide bombings near Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport this evening. Thousands of people had flocked to the airport, trying to flee the Taliban that has annexed Afghanistan. Officials offered no casualty count, but a witness said several people appeared to have been killed or wounded.
Briefing people about the grim development, the Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby tweeted, “We can confirm that the explosion near the Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport has resulted in an unknown number of casualties. We will continue to update.”
The US embassy in Kabul said there had been reports of gunfire at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, urging Americans to avoid travelling to the airport at this time. “US citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the US embassy said.
US President Joe Biden is monitoring the latest developments from the situation room of the White House, American administration sources said.
A Taliban ‘official’ said at least 13 people, including children, had been killed in the attack.
Russia said a second explosion went off outside the Kabul airport.
Pentagon said the explosion at the Abbey Gate was a result of a complex attack that caused a number of US and civilian casualties. It confirmed another explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a little distance from Abbey Gate.
France President Emmanuel Macron said the situation was extremely tense around the airport. He said talks were underway with the Taliban on the issue.
The UK government called a crisis meeting in the wake of the airport explosion.
Several countries had urged people to avoid the airport earlier in the day, with one saying there was a threat of a suicide bombing. However, days or hours before the evacuation effort was to end, few appeared to care.
The blast occurred hours after France and the Netherlands announced their decision to wrap up the evacuation operations amid security concerns. The US, however, said it would continue to evacuate as many people as it could until the deadline.
Over the past week, the Kabul airport has witnessed some of the most disturbing images of a chaotic end to the US’s longest war after Vietnam and the Taliban’s annexation of Afghanistan, as one flight after another took off, carrying those who feared a return of the terrorist rule.