Haroon Sabawoon | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Two suicide bombers struck on Thursday near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where thousands of people are still hoping to be evacuated following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
U.S. Central Command confirmed Thursday evening that 13 U.S. service members had been killed and 18 wounded. U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Friday that between 60 and 80 Afghans were also killed in the blasts.
ISIS-K, an Afghanistan-based affiliate of the terror group, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The warnings came as the U.S. and allies resumed evacuations from Kabul. About 12,500 were flown out in the 24-hour period ending at 3 a.m. ET Friday. Over the past two weeks, coalition forces have evacuated approximately 105,000 people. Since the end of July, evacuations total about 110,600.
President Joe Biden said earlier this week that ISIS-K posed a growing threat to the airport, adding that this was why he had been “so determined to limit the duration of the mission.”
U.S. Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, Jr. told a Pentagon briefing on Thursday that ISIS is likely to try to continue attacks before the evacuations conclude.
“The threat is obviously going to grow the closer we get to leaving,” he told Sky News. “The narrative is always going to be, as we leave, certain groups such as ISIS will want to stake a claim that they have driven out the U.S. or the U.K.”
Wallace also took a shot at the Biden administration, saying that the West “seems to think it fixes problems; it doesn’t, it manages them.” He added that supporting nation building should be conducted “as an international force over the long term.”
Evacuations ending for U.K. forces
At around 4:30 a.m. on Friday, the U.K. authorized the closure of its processing center at Kabul’s Baron’s Hotel and evacuated its officials. Wallace told BBC News that the last 1,000 eligible people inside the airfield would be processed and flown out on Friday.
However, he has conceded that not everyone will be able to get out, telling the LBC radio station that up to 150 British nationals may not have made it out yet as evacuation efforts enter their final hours.
Australia has ceased all evacuation flights from Afghanistan in the wake of the bombings, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday, claiming it was no longer safe to continue evacuations.