Newsman: Eleven U.S. Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman were killed Thursday when two bombs exploded in a coordinated attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, one outside a main gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, the other at a nearby hotel. The death toll from Thursday’s blasts in Kabul has increased to more than 90 people killed, an official with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health told journalists. At least 18 U.S. service members were injured.There are also more than 150 wounded from the blasts, the official said.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the “martyrdom attack,” which killed at least 60 Afghans and wounded more than 140, according to the Associated Press.
Speaking from the White House, President Joe Biden condemns Kabul attack, vows ‘we will hunt you down.’ Members of Biden’s national security team learned of the first explosion as they gathered in the Situation Room on Thursday morning for a scheduled meeting with the president. As the situation unraveled, the White House announced that a number of events on Biden’s schedule had been postponed, including an in-person meeting with Naftali Bennett, the new prime minister of Israel, as well as a virtual meeting with a group of bipartisan governors who are helping to resettle Afghan evacuees.
“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,” President Biden said.
“We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission,” he added. “These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans in there. We will get our Afghan allies out. And our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.”
“I’ve been engaged all day, in constant contact with the military commanders here in Washington and the Pentagon, as well in Afghanistan and Doha. And my commanders in Washington, in the field, have been on this with great detail, and you’ve had a chance to speak to some so far,” he said to reporters. “The situation on the ground is still evolving, and I’m constantly being updated.”
The Pentagon officials confirmed earlier that two ISIS suicide bombers detonated in the vicinity of the Abbey Gate at the airport in Kabul, where U.S. Marines were conducting security checks of potential evacuees, and in the vicinity of the nearby Baron Hotel, a short distance from the Abbey Gate.
A “numbers of U.S. service members were killed,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack.”
U.S. officials said later that most of the 13 U.S. military service members killed were Marines and at least one was a Navy hospital corpsman, or medic, and one an Army soldier.
Before Thursday, the last U.S. military combat deaths in Afghanistan were in February 2020 Since the start of the war, the U.S. had more than 2,400 deaths.
The explosions came as the U.S. and other nations were airlifting thousands of people out of Afghanistan. Nations have until Tuesday to get everyone out. The Pentagon said the evacuations will continue.
The Pentagon confirmed the airport bombing in a tweet at 9:44 a.m. EDT Thursday. The first explosion took place at Abbey Gate, one of the main entryways to the airport, and the second near the Baron Hotel, a gathering point for Afghans seeking entry to the U.K.
The bombings were suspected to be the work of ISIS-K, the Islamic State of Khorasan, a group of terrorists who are enemies of the Taliban. In a tweet, the Taliban condemned the bombings.
The State Department warned Americans Wednesday night to stay away from the airport and cited Abbey Gate, East Gate and North Gate as potential targets of attack. Officials from the U.K. and Australian officials issued similar alerts.
The Pentagon said all airport gates have been closed.
The president Biden said that he and first lady Jill Biden are “outraged as well as heartbroken” for Afghan families who lost loved ones, including small children, in what he called a “vicious attack” that will be met with “force and precision.”