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At least 60 Afghans killed in Kabul airport attacks

At least 60 Afghan civilians were killed in the two suicide bombings around the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday in which 12 U.S. service members also lost their lives, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

The Associated Press reported that more than 140 Afghan citizens suffered injuries as a result of the blasts, according to an Afghan official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

ISIS later Thursday claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of which occurred just outside a gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, where U.S. military personnel had been stationed to process individuals before boarding evacuation flights.

The second explosion was near the Barton Hotel, which is just next to the airport.

Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters Thursday that the attack at the airport gate “was followed by a number of ISIS gunmen who opened fire on civilians and military forces.”

McKenzie said that in addition to the U.S. service members killed, 15 others were injured.

“We have put more than 5,000 U.S. service members at risk to save as many civilians as we can. It’s a noble mission, and today we have seen firsthand how dangerous that mission is,” McKenzie said.

“ISIS will not deter us from accomplishing the mission,” he added. “I assure you of that.”

The AP reported that Emergency, an Italy-based nongovernmental organization that runs hospitals in Afghanistan, said it was caring for at least 60 people wounded in Thursday’s attacks, and had also taken in 10 people who were pronounced dead immediately upon their arrival.

Concern mounted in recent days of the threats ISIS could pose to the thousands of Americans and Afghan allies who remain in Afghanistan nearly two weeks after the Taliban took over Kabul.

White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan had said Sunday that the U.S. was taking the potential threat of an ISIS attack “absolutely deadly seriously.”

Biden said this week that the risks to Americans and Afghan allies would only increase if the U.S. remains in Afghanistan following his evacuation deadline of Tuesday.

The bombings marked the first major security incidents since the Taliban’s consolidation of power.

The Taliban, which along with the U.S. is a sworn enemy of Afghanistan’s affiliate of the Islamic State, expressed outrage over the attacks on Thursday, with spokesman Suhail Shaheen saying, “We strongly condemn this gruesome incident and will take every step to bring the culprits to justice,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

[Source: By Celine Castronuovo, The Hill, Washington, 26Aug21]

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