12 U.S. service members killed, 15 wounded in Kabul airport attack: report
Twelve U.S. service members including 11 Marines and a Navy medic were killed in an explosion at the Kabul airport Thursday, according to The Associated Press, citing two U.S. officials who warned that those numbers could grow.
“A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack,” Kirby said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and injured.”
“On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I express my deepest condolences to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and wounded in Kabul today,” Austin said in a statement.
“Terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others. We mourn their loss. We will treat their wounds. And we will support their families in what will most assuredly be devastating grief.”
He added that the U.S. military “will not be dissuaded from the task at hand” and “to do anything less — especially now — would dishonor the purpose and sacrifice these men and women have rendered our country and the people of Afghanistan.”
The “complex attack” took place near one of the gates of the airport and led to “a number of US & civilian casualties,” and a second explosion happened near the Baron Hotel, located a short distance from the airport gate, Kirby said in a tweet.
The airport explosion took place outside the Abby gate – the location where U.S. forces directed American citizens to go for evacuation flights – after an ISIS militant detonated a suicide vest, multiple outlets reported.
Both the Taliban and Russian government reported that 13 people had been killed in the explosions.
A Pentagon source confirmed to The Hill that evacuation flights out of the country are still running, though it is unclear whether Thursday’s attacks will alter the withdrawal timeline.
The Biden administration has repeatedly warned of looming terrorist attacks from ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), the Islamic extremist group’s Afghanistan affiliate, as thousands of people had gathered outside the airport in recent days hoping to board evacuation flights ahead of the U.S. military’s Aug. 31 withdrawal from the country.
As recently as Tuesday, President Biden said the longer U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan, there is a “growing risk of an attack” by ISIS-K.
“Everyday 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,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Wednesday warned citizens there to avoid traveling to the airfield and said that “U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.”
Other western nationals also warned their citizens against approaching the airport or have left altogether following the explosions. British officials told their citizens to avoid the airport due to “an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack,” while the German military evacuated completely from Kabul.
More than 101,300 people have been relocated from Afghanistan since July, according to the White House.
Updated at 3:03 p.m.