Two powerful explosions struck the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The bombings came hours after Western governments warned their citizens to stay away from the airport due to the threat of terrorist attacks. Among those killed were 13 US military personnel and many civilian Afghans.
Here's what we know about what happened so far:
A Timeline of Events
First, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd near a checkpoint - Abby Gate, which was controlled by the US and British military. There, thousands of Afghans fleeing the country gathered in front of the gate. After the explosion, according to eyewitnesses, the accomplice opened fire on people.
An Afghan translator who worked with US military personnel describes the explosion as follows:
"I saw many people lying on the ground, among them was a girl of about five years old, I went up to her, picked her up and took her to the hospital. But in the hospital she died in my arms. It's heartbreaking," he said.
The second terrorist attack took place near the Baron hotel with foreign military - a car bomb exploded there.
Victims: 13 US military killed, 18 more injured. Ten of the dead were from the Marine Corps. Among the Afghans, 95 people were killed. Among the dead, at least 28 members of the Taliban were killed. The number of wounded exceeds 150.
Now Kabul hospitals are overwhelmed with wounded. The Kabul Surgical Center received 60 injured in less than two hours, with at least 16 declared dead on arrival. Some patients remain in intensive care, the situation is still critical. Relatives take the dead from hospitals.
Doctors and nurses assisted the victims all night. To complicate matters, hospitals are struggling with staff reductions since the Taliban took office.
Who are ISIS-K?
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a cell of militants ISIL-K (Islamic State of Vilayat Khorasan), which is an ISIS "branch" in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
They are the most radical and aggressive of all militant groups in Afghanistan. ISIS officials consider the Taliban not strict enough, accuse them of abandoning jihad and despise them for a peaceful settlement through negotiations with the United States. These ISIS members strive to attack Western targets wherever they reach them.
Thus, a new confrontation between the two groups of militants is being planned in Kabul.
Danger of other terrorist attacks
The US military command believes that the ISIS threat in Afghanistan is real, terrorists can launch attacks using cars, suicide bombers and missiles. Drones are used to monitor the situation and prevent further attacks.
In another surprise, the US military said that Taliban fighters had prevented a series of attacks by other militants, ISIS-K. Also, the United States shares intelligence data with the Taliban to prevent terrorist attacks by ISIS militants.
At the same time, former State Department counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sals said that the Taliban should not be trusted with airport security and that US troops should immediately take control of the perimeter to prevent attacks.
The reaction of the world
All the world's media attention is now focused on the reaction of US President Joe Biden. The American president addressed the people and said that the evacuation would continue and the ISIS terrorists would not be able to stop it.
"Know: we will not forget, we will not forgive, we will hunt you down and make you pay. I will protect our interests and our people by all means available to me," Biden said, adding that the United States will choose the time for this itself.
The US President said that he had given the order to "prepare operational plans" to strike at the targets and leadership of the terrorist organization ISIS.
Other points from Biden's speech:
The United States will not increase its military contingent to guard the airport;
Biden will not wind down the operation ahead of schedule;
Biden reiterated that the United States has been fighting in Afghanistan for 20 years and this cannot continue indefinitely.
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the attack "barbaric", paying tribute to the phenomenal efforts of the participants in the evacuation operation. Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that the West naively believed that it could solve the problems of Afghanistan. In his opinion, the country should be helped with such a way of life either by international humanitarian efforts, or to prepare for a long stay on its territory.
- French President Emmanuel Macron also promised to carry out the evacuation "to the end." He expressed "condolences to the families of the American and Afghan victims" and hailed the "heroism of those on the ground for evacuation operations." Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: "We are working to evacuate as many people as possible. The international community supports the Afghan people."
It will not be possible to evacuate everyone
After the explosions on the outskirts of the Kabul airport, the evacuation of civilians accelerated. All Western countries plan to evacuate embassies and citizens by 30 August. The operation will end on August 31, in the last two days, the main forces will be sent to the withdrawal of American troops.
The United States plans to take out about 1,500 more of its citizens, Great Britain - 400 people, Germany - 200 people. Australia reported that it has already withdrawn all troops from Afghanistan. Canada announced the end of the operation to evacuate people, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and France also announced the same.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said today that only a few hours remain until the completion of the evacuation. Britain has already closed an office at the Baron Hotel where people hoped to leave for London gathered. He admitted that not everyone will be able to leave Afghanistan.