Kabul, Aug 26 (EFE).- Two explosions Thursday outside Kabul’s international airport left more than 60 Afghan civilians dead and 140 others wounded, health officials told Efe on condition of anonymity, while the United States military said that 12 of its personnel died.
Hours after the blasts at an airport entrance and a nearby hotel, journalists and Kabul residents posted messages on social media about a third explosion in the vicinity of the airport, but there was no word regarding casualties.
The Afghan branch of Islamic State, known as ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement.
Both the US and the Taliban had blamed the deadly explosions on ISIS-K.
Twelve American service-members were killed and 15 were wounded in the explosion at the airport’s Abbey Gate entrance, the head of the US military Central Command said during a virtual press conference.
The “working assumption” is that a suicide attacker detonated an explosive vest while going through screening, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said.
He said that to his knowledge, no US service members were hurt or killed in the blast at the Baron Hotel, where officials from Western governments have been processing Afghans seeking visas.
While the thousands of Afghans seeking to flee go through several other checkpoints before reaching the airport entrance, the final screening requires physical contact, McKenzie said.
“Americans have got to be in danger to do these searches,” the general said, emphasizing that the evacuation would continue despite the attack and “imminent” threats of additional strikes.
The evacuation “plan is designed to operate under stress” and US forces are coordinating with the Taliban and “doing everything we can to prepare,” McKenzie said.
“We believe that some attacks have been thwarted by them (the Taliban),” he said.
Regarding the possibility of retaliation for Thursday’s bombings, he said that the US military “can find who’s associated with this, we will go after them.”
“We assess we have the forces we need to protect ourselves,” the CentCom chief when asked whether additional troops were needed in Kabul to complete the evacuation of US nationals and Afghan allies before the Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal.
“We’re continuing to execute the mission,” McKenzie said, noting that more than 104,000 civilians have been flown out of Kabul since Aug. 14.
The US has no information to suggest that ISIS-K have the kind of surface-to-air missiles capable of bringing down airplanes, the general said.
The blasts constituted the first attacks in Kabul since the Taliban overran the capital with virtually no resistance and took full control of the country on Aug. 15.
About 5,400 American soldiers are at the Kabul airport to manage security as the US evacuates its citizens and the Afghans who worked with Washington in the past 20 years of war. EFE ssa-qaz-igr-ssa-afs-cgs-ijm/ssk-mc-dr