Afghan armed forces in Nuristan, Afghanistan. Located in the mountains, and relatively cut off from communication, Nuristan was a difficult site to control. Within the last month, the Taliban have taken over. Photo credit: Sohaib Ghyasi

Reports following bombs outside of Kabul airport show evacuation efforts went from bad to bloody

U.S. on alert for more attacks with days left to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies.

Hours after bombs detonated just outside the perimeter of Kabul airport, U.S. forces scramble to remove its citizens and Afghans who worked with Western occupying efforts. In a time crunch and a security nightmare, there are thousands still stuck in Afghanistan.

“It’s a hard day today . . . despite the attack we’re continuing this mission,” said General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., the Commander of the Central Command at a press briefing with Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby.  

As Afghans collect the bodies of 85 civilians killed and many more wounded, military officials coordinate airlifts for the bodies of the 13 service persons who died in the blast. General McKenzie reported that “a number of buses” with those wanting to leave, were brought onto Kabul’s airfield even after fatalities. The general also stated that U.S. officials will come up with other ways “to get [evacuees] safely to the airfield” to fly them out.

President Biden declared at a press conference that the U.S. “will hunt [bombers] down.” Months before, he declared, “it’s time to end America’s longest war.”

According to General McKenzie, U.S. forces are still gathering information around the attacks, but “they have other active threat streams.” The bombings were a result of two suicide bombers who self-detonated outside the gates of Kabul airport told General McKenzie. The explosions were followed by ISIS-K gunfire. After the attacks, the Islamic State Khorasan Province, known as ISIS-K claimed responsibility. However, the Taliban does not get along with ISIS-K.

Right before the suicide bombings, Secretary Antony J. Blinken of the State Department detailed at a press briefing on August 25 that there were about 500 U.S. citizens who wanted to be removed from the Taliban-controlled country. Secretary Blinken said he believed another “approximately 1,000 . . . Americans actively seeking assistance to leave Afghanistan [are] lower, likely significantly lower.”

So far, over 82,300 have been escorted out of Afghanistan. According to the State Department, approximately 6,000 of those who left were American. The Taliban gave an end date of August 31 for all Americans to leave. 

“As we continue this process, Congress, on a bipartisan basis, remains deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan,” said Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a statement.

Though General McKenzie says intelligence shows that other attacks are highly likely, the operations to evacuate move forward. “We will rescue the Americans; we will get our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on,” Biden said in the press conference regarding the situation.

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