Two explosions took place outside of the Kabul airport where large crowds have gathered since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, The Washington Post reports.
The first explosion went off outside of the airport’s Abbey gate and the second explosion was at the nearby Baron Hotel, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
Large crowds have been gathering outside of the airport in hopes of making it onto an evacuation flight as the United States faces a time crunch ahead of President Joe Biden’s self-imposed August 31 deadline. The Taliban has vowed to retaliate if the deadline is extended.
Kirby did not say how many people were injured but Taliban officials told Reuters that 13 people, including children, were killed. At least 30 people have been taken to a hospital.
It’s not clear if evacuation flights have been halted as a result of the attack.
The US and allies have evacuated more than 90,000 Americans and Afghan allies since the Taliban takeover.
Blast follows warning:
The attacks came after the US warned Americans to “leave immediately” from the area surrounding the airport, citing unspecified security threats.
A US official told The New York Times that the administration is tracking “specific” and “credible” threats at the airport from an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.
“U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the US said in a warning to Americans.
The British and Australian governments also issued warnings, citing “an ongoing and very high threat of terrorist attack.”
Attack believed to be a suicide bomber:
A military official told the Times that the first attack is believed to be a suicide bomber.
“The crowd was packed and people were pushing. I tripped and that’s when the explosion happened. I think four or five soldiers were hit,” a witness told the outlet. “We fell to the ground and the foreign soldiers started shooting. There were bodies everywhere, people were running.”
Some countries had already halted evacuation flights before the attack over the threat.