Dozens of civilians, at least 13 US soldiers killed – .

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Dozens of civilians, at least 13 US soldiers killed in bloodbath at Kabul airport – .


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ISIS hit the crowded doors of Kabul airport on Thursday in a suicide bombing, killing dozens of civilians and at least 13 US soldiers, disrupting the airlift to tens of thousands of desperate Afghans.

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Kabul health officials reportedly said 60 civilians were killed. A video shot by Afghan journalists showed dozens of bodies strewn around a canal on the edge of the airport. At least two explosions rocked the area, witnesses said.

ISIS said one of its suicide bombers was targeting “translators and assistants in the US military.” US officials also blamed the group.

US casualties, which dropped from 12 to 13 later Thursday according to US officials, are believed to be the highest number of US troops killed in Afghanistan in a single incident since 30 people were killed when a helicopter was shot down in August 2011 .

The attack was carried out as US forces rushed to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan, after President Joe Biden said the United States had long achieved its raison d’être to invade the country in 2001. : root out Al-Qaeda militants and prevent a repeat of the attack. September 11 attacks on the United States.

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Biden has vowed to prosecute those responsible for Thursday’s bombing and said he ordered the Pentagon to plan how to strike ISIS-K, the Islamic State affiliate who has claimed responsibility.

“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We’re going to hunt you down and make you pay, ”Biden said during White House television comments.

Corpses lay in the canal near the airport fence, video of the scene showed, some being fished out and deposited in piles as civilians mourned in search of their loved ones.

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“For a moment, I thought my eardrums were burst and I lost my hearing. I saw bodies and body parts fly through the air like a tornado blowing plastic bags. I saw bodies, body parts, old people and injured men, women and children scattered around, ”said an Afghan man trying to reach the airport. “This little water that was flowing in the sewer channel had turned into blood. “

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The US deaths were the first in action in Afghanistan in 18 months, a fact likely to be cited by critics who accuse Biden of recklessly abandoning a stable, hard-earned status quo by ordering a brutal withdrawal.

General Frank McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, said the US would continue with the evacuations, noting that there were still around 1,000 US citizens in Afghanistan. But several Western countries have said the massive airlift of civilians is drawing to a close, likely leaving no way out for the tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for the West during two decades of war.

McKenzie said US commanders were preparing for further attacks from the Islamic State, including rockets or on-board bombs targeting the airport.

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“We are doing everything we can to be ready,” he said.

The violence of the Islamic State is a challenge for the Taliban, who promised the Afghans that they would bring peace to the country they quickly conquered. A Taliban spokesman described the attack as the work of “evil circles” that would be quelled once foreign troops left.

Western countries fear that the Taliban, which once housed al-Qaeda from Osama bin Laden, could allow Afghanistan to once again become a haven for militants. The Taliban say they will not let the country be used by terrorists.

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THREAT AT THE AIRPORT

Zubair, a 24-year-old civil engineer, who had been trying for nearly a week to get inside the airport with a cousin who had papers authorizing him to travel to the United States, said he was 50 meters from a suicide bomber who detonated explosives. at the door.

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“Men, women and children were screaming. I saw many wounded – men, women and children – being loaded into private vehicles and taken to hospitals, ”he said, adding that after the explosions there had been gunshots.

Washington and its allies had urged civilians to stay away from the airport, citing the threat from the Islamic State.

In the past 12 days, Western countries have evacuated nearly 100,000 people. But they recognize that thousands of people will be left behind following Biden’s order to withdraw all troops by August 31.

The last days of the airlift will be mainly used to withdraw the remaining troops. Canada and some European countries have already announced the end of their airlifts.

Biden ordered all troops to leave Afghanistan by the end of the month to comply with a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban brokered by his predecessor Donald Trump. Biden fended off calls this week from European allies for longer.

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The collapse of the West-backed government in Afghanistan has surprised US officials and risks reversing the gains, especially on the rights of women and girls, millions of whom have gone to school and work, once banned under the Taliban.

Biden defended the decision to leave, saying US forces cannot stay indefinitely. But critics say the US force, which once numbered more than 100,000, has been reduced to a few thousand in recent years, no longer participating in ground combat and mostly confined to an air base. It was a fraction of the size of the US military contingents that stayed in places like Korea for decades.

Fighters claiming allegiance to the Islamic State began to appear in eastern Afghanistan in late 2014 and have built a reputation for extreme brutality. They claimed responsibility for suicide attacks against civilians, government targets and ethnic and sectarian minorities.

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