The US Department of Defense on Thursday (August 26) confirmed that 12 US soldiers were killed in a bomb attack at the entrance to Kabul airport on the same day.
The commander of US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, also told reporters at a news conference hours after the attack that 15 more people were injured, according to The Epoch Times.
It is not clear from which unit the US soldiers who suffered casualties came from. This is the largest US soldier death incident in Afghanistan since a helicopter was shot down in August 2011 that killed 30 US soldiers.
The bombing happened at or near Abbey Gate, located east of Kabul airport, on Thursday afternoon (August 26, local time). Before that, at least one other explosion occurred near the Baron Hotel, not far from Abbey Gate.
Photos of the blast at Abbey Gate show many people injured and covered in blood. Dozens of Afghan civilians were also killed or wounded. Total casualties have not been reported.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorist group boasted that they had carried out a suicide bombing, penetrating all the security defenses established by US forces and the Taliban.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a statement expressing “deep condolences” to the relatives and comrades of the soldiers killed and wounded in Kabul.
“Terrorists took the lives of [American soldiers] just as these soldiers were trying to save the lives of others. We mourn their sacrifice. We will treat the injured. And we will support their families during this sad time. But we are not going to give up on our mission,” Austin said. “To do nothing, especially at this time, would be a disgrace to these men and women’s sacrifices for our country and for the Afghan people.”
According to Reuters, hours after the attack at Kabul airport, US President Joe Biden spoke at the White House. “We will not forgive, we will not forget,” he said. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
“I have also ordered [US military] commanders to plan an action plan to strike ISIS-K assets, its leadership, and its facilities. We will respond with our force and precision at a time and place of our choosing,” Biden added.
The US president also said the US evacuation will continue. He did not talk about any changes to the upcoming August 31 withdrawal deadline.
Other international leaders have warned that the situation at Kabul airport is dangerous and unstable. Security there deteriorated just days before the August 31 deadline, when the US is expected to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.
“The next few hours in Kabul and the airport here will remain extremely dangerous,” French President Emmanuel Macron, on a visit to Ireland, told reporters.
The US and its allies have previously issued warnings to their citizens not to travel to Kabul airport and to stay away from its entrances.
Over the past 12 days, Western nations have evacuated nearly 100,000 people from Kabul. But they acknowledge that thousands of people will still be left behind after the US pulls out its troops on August 31.
According to Reuters, the last remaining days before the withdrawal deadline, the US air bridge will mainly be used to withdraw the remaining troops. Canada and several other European countries have announced the end of their evacuation flights.