Washington — Multiple U.S. service members were among those killed in a “complex attack” outside the airport in Kabul, the Pentagon said Thursday, the worst-case scenario for the U.S. amid efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies ahead of President Biden’s August 31 deadline to leave.
“We can confirm that a number of U.S. service members were killed in today’s ‘complex attack’ at Kabul airport,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Twitter. “A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack.”
One explosion tore through crowds waiting at Abbey Gate, one of four entrances to the airport, where thousands of people had gathered everyday since Kabul fell to the Taliban, desperate to board flights out of the country. Another explosion struck a nearby hotel, the Pentagon said.
Three sources told CBS News a suicide bomber was responsible for the explosion at Abbey Gate. A White House official told CBS News that Mr. Biden was being briefed on the situation.
A Taliban spokesman condemned the “gruesome incident” and said the group “will take every step to bring the culprits to justice.”
As the U.S. rushes to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans who helped American troops during the 20-year war in Afghanistan, as well as those at risk from the Taliban, Mr. Biden has warned that the risk to American and allied forces on the ground was growing with each day that passes.
On Wednesday evening, the U.S. and Britainnot to go to Kabul’s airport because of a terror threat outside the facility’s gates. The U.S. Embassy in the capital alerted U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and said those at three different gates “should leave immediately.”
Mr. Biden spoke earlier this week of an ongoing threat posed by the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS Khorasan, or ISIS-K.