Kabul, AFGHANISTAN – At least 12 U.S. service members were killed and at least 15 more U.S. service members were wounded on Thursday when two suicide bombers attacked an airport gate and a hotel next door.
U.S. Army General Kenneth McKenzie, Jr., the commander of the U.S. Central Command, said during a press briefing that an unknown number of Afghan citizens were also killed and wounded in the attack.
The attack on the Kabul airport followed days of threat warnings from the United States and its allies, The Washington Post reported.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said the first blast took place right at the airport’s Abbey gate, and the second explosion was detonated in the Baron Hotel next door.
The general said that after the bombs exploded, ISIS gunmen opened fire on civilians and military forces nearby.
McKenzie said that some of the wounded Afghans were being treating aboard a U.S. Navy ship and the rest were being transported to local hospitals.
Photo sent by U.S. person from an Afghan cousin who took and sent the photo right before the complex attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul. The Afghan cousin is said to have been killed in the attack. pic.twitter.com/mReEtLisiK
— Alex Plitsas 🇺🇸 (@alexplitsas) August 26, 2021
The service members killed on Aug. 26 marked the first U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan since February of 2020.
U.S. officials said they believed the attack was made by members of the Islamic State known as ISIS-K and members of the group have since claimed responsibility for the bombings The Washington Post reported.
Death toll in bomb blasts in #Kabul rises to over 60, including 12 #USA marines, while over 100 others were hurt. #Kabulairport has seen large-scale #evacuation from #Afghanistan & @DeptofDefense had warned of imminent attack by #ISISK, part of #IslamicState. #MIG @USMC #ISIS pic.twitter.com/RBr7yzmg1q
— MEDIA INDIA GROUP (@mediaindiagroup) August 26, 2021
The #IS claimed responsibility for today's attack at #Kabul airport. The statement says that #ISKP Attacker Abdul Rahman al-Logari detonated explosive vest and killed and wounded 160 Afghan interpreters and contractors cooperating with the US army, as well as 20 US soldiers. pic.twitter.com/gSy384MAoH
— Bedouin Researcher (@TheBedouinPoet) August 26, 2021
Large crowds of Afghans have mobbed the airport on a daily basis in hope of being evacuated from the rapidly collapsing country by U.S.-sponsored military and civilian aircraft.
The United States had airlifted 66,000 people out of Kabul as of Wednesday, according to the general.
McKenzie said officials believed that a little more than 1,000 U.S. citizens remained in Afghanistan and said the military was working to help all who wanted to leave get out.
BREAKING: Gen. McKenzie says 'ISIS fighters' detonated 2 suicide bombs at Kabul airport & Baron Hotel.
The attack was followed by "ISIS gunmen who opened fire on civilians and military forces. At this time, we know that 12 US servicemembers have been killed in the attack." pic.twitter.com/pNtaF8xf22
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 26, 2021
He said that 37,000 refugees have been evacuated from Afghanistan by U.S. allies.
But some NATO allies, including Poland and Belgium, ceased evacuation flights on Wednesday ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline established for U.S. troop withdrawal, The Washington Post reported.
Turkey also started withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.
McKenzie said U.S. military officials have met with the Taliban and asked them to push out the security perimeter around the airport and identified additional roads that needed to be closed to avoid a vehicle-borne suicide threat.