Earlier, Western nations had warned of a possible attack at the airport. One explosion went off in a crowd of people waiting to enter the airport and another was a short distance away by a hotel.
TWIN suicide bombings struck on Thursday outside Kabul’s airport, where large crowds of people trying to flee Afghanistan have massed, killing at least 13 people, Russian officials said. Western nations had warned earlier in the day of a possible attack at the airport in the waning days of a massive airlift. Suspicion for any attack targeting the crowds would likely fall on the Islamic State group and not the Taliban, who have been deployed at the airport’s gates trying to control the mass of people. Russia’s Foreign Ministry gave the first official casualty count, saying 13 people had died and 15 were wounded. US officials said that American personnel were wounded in the blast, without elaborating. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also confirmed the blasts, saying one near an airport entrance was a “complex attack” and another was a short distance away by a hotel. One explosion went off in a crowd of people waiting to enter the airport, according to Adam Khan, an Afghan waiting nearby. He said several people appeared to have been killed or wounded, including some who lost body parts. Several countries urged people to avoid the airport earlier in the day, with one saying there was a threat of a suicide bombing. But just days — or even hours for some nations — before the evacuation effort ends, few appeared to heed the call. Overnight, warnings emerged from Western capitals about a threat from Afghanistan’s Islamic State group affiliate, which likely has seen its ranks boosted by the Taliban’s freeing of prisoners during their blitz across the country. British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC early Thursday there was “very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack” at the airport, possibly within “hours.” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said his country had received information from the US and other countries about the “threat of suicide attacks on the mass of people.”
The acting US ambassador to Kabul, Ross Wilson, said the security threat at the Kabul airport overnight was “clearly regarded as credible, as imminent, as compelling.” But in an interview with ABC News, he would not give details and did not say whether the threat remained. A while later, the blast was reported. US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the explosion, the White House says. Late Wednesday, the US Embassy warned citizens at three airport gates to leave immediately due to an unspecified security threat. Australia, Britain and New Zealand also advised their citizens on Thursday not to go to the airport, with Australia’s Foreign Minister saying there was a “very high threat of a terrorist attack.” Earlier on Thursday, the Taliban sprayed a water cannon at those gathered at one airport gate to try to drive the crowd away, as someone launched tear gas canisters elsewhere.
Nadia Sadat, a 27-year-old Afghan, carried her 2-year-old daughter with her outside the airport. She and her husband, who had worked with coalition forces, missed a call from a number they believed was the State Department and were trying to get into the airport without any luck. Her husband had pressed ahead in the crowd to try to get them inside. “We have to find a way to evacuate because our lives are in danger,” Sadat said. “My husband received several threatening messages from unknown sources. We have no chance except escaping.” Gunshots later echoed in the area as Sadat waited. “There is anarchy because of immense crowds,” she said, blaming the US for the chaos.