'Bodies in the air': At least 72 dead in Kabul airport attacks

·News Reporter
·4-min read

WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT: An attack involving two large explosions near Kabul's airport has killed at least 72 people, including 12 US service members, the Pentagon says.

The attack, which US intelligence agencies said involved two suicide bombings by group ISIS-K – a regional affiliate of the so-called Islamic State terrorist group – has also injured at least 140.

The explosions tore through large crowds that had thronged the gates of Hamid Karzai International Airport and were followed by gunfire believed to be from ISIS gunmen, US officials say.

An injured man is laid on a stretcher (left) after the attack which sent smoke into the Kabul skyline (right). Source: Getty
An injured man is laid on a stretcher (left) after the attack which sent smoke into the Kabul skyline (right). Source: Getty

Islamic State has since claimed responsibility and said in a statement one of its suicide bombers had targeted "translators and collaborators with the American army".

Islamic State militants have emerged in Afghanistan as enemies both of the West and the Taliban.

Joe Biden's warning to ISIS-K

US President Joe Biden described the attack as "a tough day" and described the US victims as heroes.

"Heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous selfless mission to save the lives of others," he said.

Mr Biden said he was "outraged" over the Afghan fatalities which included children.

One of the explosions occurred outside the Baron Hotel, which is near the airport and is often frequented by Americans in Kabul. Source: Yahoo News
One of the explosions occurred outside the Baron Hotel, which is near the airport and is often frequented by Americans in Kabul. Source: Yahoo News

"To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this, we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay."

The Department of Defence says all Australian troops and officials are safe and evacuation efforts will be suspended, the ABC reported.

Thousands have gathered outside the airport in recent days as they desperately attempt to flee the country following the Taliban's advancements on Afghanistan's capital.

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Volunteers and medical staff bring an injured man for treatment after two powerful explosions, which killed at least six people, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)
A man is loaded into an amublance following the attack. Source: Getty

Witness recalls 'doomsday' attack

Witnesses have described the terrifying scenes at Abbey Gate, the main entrance of the airport, in the wake of one of the explosions.

"I saw bodies and body parts flying in the air like a tornado taking plastic bags... into the air. I saw bodies, body parts, elderly and injured men, women and children scattered in the blast site," a former male employee of an international development group said.

"It is not possible to see doomsday in this life, but today I saw doomsday, I witnessed it with my own eyes."

Distressing video shows bystanders moving bodies into a nearby sewage canal. Injured civilians were being rushed away in wheelbarrows.

Two injured people are escorted away from the scene in wheelbarrows. Source: Twitter
Two injured people are escorted away from the scene in wheelbarrows. Source: Twitter

"The little water flowing into it had turned into blood," the man said.

General Kenneth McKenzie, who leads the US Central Command, confirmed 12 US service members had died in the attacks and an additional 15 were injured.

“Their loss weighs heavily on us all,” General McKenzie said.

He said he believed further attacks, including rocket and vehicle attacks, in the vicinity were likely in the coming days.

However US has vowed to push on with its evacuation mission until its August 31 deadline.

The attack marked the first US military casualties in Afghanistan since February 2020 and represented the deadliest incident for American troops in the country in a decade.

Australians warned ahead of terror attack 

The federal government had earlier warned Australians and Afghan visa holders not to travel to Kabul airport where rescue flights had been the only passage out of the war-torn nation.

"Our clear travel advice is now, do not travel to Hamid Karzai International Airport and if you are in the area of the airport, moved to a safe location and await further advice. Afghanistan remains highly volatile and dangerous," Foreign Minister Marise Payne told reporters in Canberra on Thursday. 

"Be aware of the potential for violence and security threats with large crowds. There is an ongoing and very high threat of a terrorist attack. That is the revised travel advice which we have issued," she said.

In a similar warning, The US Embassy in Kabul had advised Americans to avoid travelling to the airport and said those already at the gates should leave immediately, citing unspecified "security threats."

With Reuters

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