LIVE: Kabul airport bombed as evacuations from Afghanistan continue


KABUL, Afghanistan (NewsNation Now) —  An explosion went off Thursday outside the Kabul airport, where thousands of people have gathered to try to flee the country on Western airlift since the Taliban seized power earlier this month. 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the attack occurred outside the Abbey Gate in the Kabul airport and there was no immediate word on the number of casualties in the blast Thursday.

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A witness, Adam Khan, told the Associated Press multiple people were either killed or wounded, but did not have a confirmed injury or death count. He added some people appeared to be missing body parts. He was about 30 yards from Thursday’s blast.

The State Department also confirmed the blast occurred and said there were reports of gunfire. They warned U.S. citizens, “should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates. Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.”

President Joe Biden was also briefed on the explosion and is expected to meet with his national security team Thursday morning to discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

Russian officials reported the attack was a suicide bomb outside Kabul’s airport Thursday which killed at least 2 people and wounded 15. The Pentagon has not confirmed the nature of the attack or number injured.

The Pentagon is expected to brief the press at 10:30 a.m ET about the latest on evacuation efforts and the reported blast outside the airport.

NewsNation will stream the Pentagon briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET in the player above.

Thousands of Afghans have been gathered at the airport for days trying to flee the country since the Taliban takeover earlier this month. Western nations had warned of a possible attack.

Several countries urged people to avoid the airport, where an official said there was a threat of a suicide bombing. But just days — or even hours for some nations — before the evacuation effort ends, few appeared to heed the call.

Over the last week, the airport has been the scene of some of the most searing images of the chaotic end of America’s longest war and the Taliban’s takeover, as flight after flight took off carrying those who fear a return to the militants’ brutal rule.

Airbnb to give 20K Afghan refugees temporary housing has spoken with both refugees and advocates desperate to rescue as many people as possible from the country. They have described dangerous conditions on the ground as the Taliban tries to stop people leaving Afghanistan.

Army veteran Chris McClanahan decried the Biden administration’s troop withdrawal strategy as he explained the struggle his former interpreter, Ramallah, is facing attempting to leave.

“Unless they tell me something terrible has happened. I’m going to keep doing what I can do. But it’s a shame that I have to do this. Our administration should be doing this,” said McClanahan.

Already, some countries have ended their evacuations and begun to withdraw their soldiers and diplomats, signaling the beginning of the end of one of history’s largest airlifts. The Taliban have so far honored a pledge not to attack Western forces during the evacuation, but insist the foreign troops must be out by America’s self-imposed deadline of Aug. 31.

Overnight, warnings emerged from Western capitals about a threat from Afghanistan’s Islamic State group affiliate, which likely has seen its ranks boosted by the Taliban’s freeing of prisoners during their blitz across the country.

The acting U.S. ambassador to Kabul, Ross Wilson, said the security threat at the Kabul airport overnight was “clearly regarded as credible, as imminent, as compelling.” But in an interview with ABC News, he would not give details and did not say whether the threat remained.

Shortly after the interview, the blast outside the Kabul airport was reported.

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Wilson also said there remain “safe ways” for Americans to reach the airport, but, “There undoubtedly will be” Afghans who had worked with or for the U.S. in Afghanistan who will not be able to get out before the evacuation ends.

Late Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy warned citizens at three airport gates to leave immediately due to an unspecified security threat. Australia, Britain and New Zealand also advised their citizens Thursday not to go to the airport, with Australia’s foreign minister saying there was a “very high threat of a terrorist attack.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that any attack was imminent. “It’s not correct,” he wrote in a text message after being asked about the warnings. He did not elaborate.

The hard-line Islamic group wrested back control of the country nearly 20 years after being ousted in a U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks, which al-Qaida orchestrated while being sheltered by the group.

Senior U.S. officials said Wednesday’s warning from the embassy was related to specific threats involving the Islamic State group and potential vehicle bombs. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing military operations.

Amid the warnings and the pending American withdrawal, Canada ended its evacuations, and European nations halted or prepared to stop their own operations.

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“The reality on the ground is the perimeter of the airport is closed. The Taliban have tightened the noose. It’s very, very difficult for anybody to get through at this point,” said Canadian General Wayne Eyre, the country’s acting chief of defense staff.

The Taliban have said they’ll allow Afghans to leave via commercial flights after the deadline next week, but it remains unclear which airlines would return to an airport controlled by the militants.


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