At least 60 Afghans and four U.S. Marines were killed in explosions at the Kabul airport, as two blasts ripped through crowds trying to enter the American-controlled facility on Thursday, disrupting the final push of the U.S.-led evacuation effort.
The U.S. envoy in Kabul told embassy staff there that four U.S. Marines were killed in the attack at the city’s airport and three wounded, a U.S. official with knowledge of the briefing said. A senior Afghan health official put the death toll among local civilians at 60, with many more fighting for their lives.
At the time of the attack, approaches to the airport’s gates were packed by thousands of Afghans who feared persecution by the Taliban because they had assisted U.S.-led coalition efforts in the country over the past two decades. While no group claimed immediate responsibility, Western governments warned earlier Thursday of an imminent attack by Islamic State’s regional affiliate.
The Taliban, who seized Kabul on Aug. 15, are a sworn enemy of Islamic State, and shot dead one of the group’s top leaders in Afghanistan hours after taking over the Kabul prison where he was held.
The attacks at entrances to the airport came as the window for evacuation flights was rapidly shutting down ahead of the U.S. military withdrawal that President Biden directed to be completed by Aug. 31. Thousands of Western citizens and permanent residents are still stranded in Afghanistan, and many fear that they will now be abandoned to face possible Taliban retribution.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that approximately 1,500 American citizens were still in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, and that Washington was in touch with some 500 of them, trying to organize evacuations.
Four Marines participating in the Afghanistan evacuation were killed in a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport on Thursday morning, making it the deadliest day in the war since 2015.
The U.S. ambassador in Kabul told staff of the casualties after terrorists set off two suicide bombs outside of the airport as well as at the Baron Hotel in the Afghan capital. TheWall Street Journalconfirmedthe deaths of U.S. troops. The bombingisthe deadliest day in the war in AfghanistansinceDec. 21, 2015, when six soldiers were killed by a suicide bombing at Bagram Air Base. It is the first combat death since February 2020.
The blast left three more Marines injured in the attack at the Abbey Gate entrance at the Kabul airport. Pentagon press secretary John Kirbyconfirmedthe deaths of Marines in a statement.
"We can confirm that a number of U.S. service members were killed in today’s complex attack at Kabul airport," Kirby said. "A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and injured."
ISIS-K, the Afghanistan affiliate of ISIS, reportedly orchestrated the attack.
Total casualties are reportedly more than 40, including Afghan civilians and an infant. The Biden administration has committed to a full withdrawal from the country by Tuesday even as thousands of Americans and Afghan allies remain stranded in the country.