Kabul airport attack: Man recalls grim moment girl, 5, 'died in his arms'

Harrowing eyewitness accounts have described the devastation caused by the twin bomb attacks in Kabul, including one man who said he watched a five-year-old girl die in his arms.

Two blasts and gunfire rocked the area outside Kabul's airport on Thursday evening (local time), killing 85 people including 13 US soldiers.

A health official and a Taliban official said the toll of Afghans killed had risen to 72, including 28 Taliban members, although a spokesman for the militant group later denied any of their fighters guarding the airport perimeter had been killed.

The US military said 13 of its service members were killed and 18 wounded in what it described as a complex attack.

The military death toll amounted to the worst single-day loss for the Pentagon in Afghanistan since 2011.

A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of the twin suicide bombs at Kabul airport.
A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of the twin suicide bombs, which killed scores of people. Source: AFP via Getty Images

Carl, who had been working as an Afghan translator for the US Marine Corps, said he was trying to get out of the country when a bomb detonated.

He tried to help a little girl who he found lying on the ground, but sadly she died in his arms.

"I got a baby girl, she was five years old, she died right in my hands," he told Fox News.

"I tried to help her. She was not my baby girl, she was somebody else's girl and I saw her on the ground. I picked her up to take her to the hospital, but she died...."

Body parts 'flying' in 'doomsday' bombing

One former interpreter escaped unscathed despite being close to the explosion with his wife, three-month-old baby girl and three-year-old son.

"It was like doomsday," he said, adding there were "injured people everywhere".

Another Afghan who had been trying to reach the airport described seeing blood running through a sewage canal.

"For a moment I thought my eardrums were blasted and I lost my sense of hearing," he said.

"I saw bodies and body parts flying in the air like a tornado blowing plastic bags. I saw bodies, body parts, elders and injured men, women and children scattered. That little water flowing in the sewage canal had turned into blood."

Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.
Two suicide bombers and gunmen have targeted crowds massing near the Kabul airport in the waning days of a massive airlift that has drawn thousands of people seeking to flee the Taliban. Source: AP

IS-K claims responsibility for Kabul bombing – but who are they?

The attack at the airport, where people are desperately trying to flee the Taliban was claimed by the regionally-based Islamic State-Khorosan or IS-K, an affiliate of ISIS.

Islamic State (IS), an enemy of the Islamist Taliban as well as the West, said one of its suicide bombers targeted "translators and collaborators with the American army".

It was not clear if suicide bombers detonated both blasts or if one was a planted bomb.

It was also not clear if IS gunmen were involved in the attack or if the firing that followed the blasts was Taliban guards firing into the air to control crowds.

Months after the IS declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria in 2014, breakaway fighters from the Pakistani Taliban joined militants in Afghanistan to form a regional chapter, pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Pictured is a wounded patient brought by a taxi to emergency Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.
A wounded patient is brought by a taxi to hospital in Kabul, following the twin bombings at the airport. Source: Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The group was formally acknowledged by the central IS leadership the next year as it sunk roots in northeastern Afghanistan, particularly Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan provinces.

It also managed to set up sleeper cells in other parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including Kabul, according to United Nations monitors.

The latest estimates of its strength vary from several thousand active fighters to as low as 500, according to a UN Security Council report released last month.

"Khorasan" is a historical name for the region, taking in parts of what is today Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

with Yahoo US, AFP and Reuters

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