A suicide bombing outside the Abbey Gate at Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan Thursday injured at least three U.S. Marines, U.S. officials told Fox News, with further casualties not yet known.
A U.S. official said that the attack set off a firefight at Abbey Gate, where last night there were 5,000 Afghans and potentially some Americans seeking access to the airport to flee.
Meanwhile, there was a second explosion at the Baron Hotel, where Americans have gathered in the past for rescue and evacuation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday had said that up to 1,500 Americans may still be in the country.
It was not clear the extent of the injuries suffered by the troops, and how many others were hurt in the large crowds that regularly gathered at the airport seeking to flee the Taliban.
The Taliban had moved quickly through the country ahead of the planned U.S. withdrawal at the end of the month, catching the U.S. off-guard and leading to chaotic scenes at Kabul airport and a mass evacuation effort. As of Wednesday, 82,300 people had been flown out, including 4,500 U.S. citizens.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby tweeted: “We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can.”
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.
— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 26, 2021
Sources on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, said there had been multiple explosions in Kabul. In Washington D.C., lawmakers had been focused on getting as many Americans and Afghans out of the country ahead of the Aug. 31 withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The bombing comes hours after the State Department warned Americans outside the gates of the Kabul airport to “leave immediately” due to the increasing terrorist threat. Blinken had said Wednesday there was a “very real possibility” of an attack.
In an alert on Thursday, the State Department confirmed a large explosion and reports of gunfire and said: “U.S. citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates at this time.”
“U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the bulletin said.
A White House official told Fox News that President Biden has been briefed on the explosion. Biden had been scheduled to meet with his national security team Thursday morning.
Story cited here.