In the hours after Thursday’s suicide bombings near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, evacuations of Americans and their allies restarted, an effort to get out as many civilians ahead of the military’s withdrawal, just four days away. The bombings did not deter a crowd from massing outside the airport’s gates.
The death toll from the blasts includes 11 U.S. Marines, a Navy hospital corpsman, and another service member whose branch was not immediately identified, American officials said. At least 18 U.S. service members were injured. It was the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.
About 169 Afghan people died, officials told the Associated Press. CBS News was reporting that number at 170.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” President Joe Biden said on Thursday evening.
The bombings, which occurred near the Abbey Gate on the airport’s civilian side, hit hours after Western officials warned of a major attack on the airport. Islamic State terror group ISIS-K claimed credit for the violence.
“Active threats against the airfield” remain, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., head of the U.S. Center Command, warned at a Pentagon briefing on Thursday.
What we know: Biden: ‘We will not forgive’; Navy confirms 13th US service member killed in Kabul
How it happened: Satellite images, graphics, and maps show how fatal airport, hotel explosions ripped through Kabul
The White House on Friday morning released the latest numbers on of Kabul airport evacuations. From about noon Thursday to noon Friday, Afghanistan time, approximately 12,500 people were evacuated. They left the country on 35 U.S. military flights, carrying 8,500 people, and 54 coalition flights, holding 4,000 people.
Evacuations resumed Thursday following the ISIS-K suicide blasts outside the airport that killed dozens of people.
That brings the total evacuated by the U.S. directly or with U.S. help to 105,000 people in the last 13 days.
– Katie Wadington
“As president, nothing was more painful than grieving with the loved ones of Americans who gave their lives serving our country,” Obama said. “As President Biden said, these service members are heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others. Our hearts go out to the families who lost a loved one, and to everyone continuing the mission in Kabul.”
Obama also expressed his sympathy for families of Afghans killed, “many of whom stood by America and were willing to risk everything for a chance at a better life.”