The situation in Kabul is rapidly deteriorating with an explosion taking place outside Kabul Airport after western governments warned citizens to stay away and the U.S. closed gates to the airport, citing terrorist threats. Earlier, an aircraft carrying refugees bound for Italy was shot at as it took off.
UPDATE: At least 13 Americans GIs and 47 Afhgans have perished in a pair of suicide bombings.
Kabul Airport Explosion After Transport Flight Shot At
Moments ago, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed a blast took place Hamid Karzai International Airport.
We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can.
— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 26, 2021
At least 14 Americans and 46 Afghans have perished in a pair of suicide bombings.
— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) August 26, 2021
This news comes after an aircraft transporting 100 refugees to Italy was shot at while taking off from Kabul Airport. No damage was reported.
Outside the airport, the scene is one of desperation three of four access points to the airport have been closed due to a specific car bomb threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), a division of ISIS inside Afghanistan. The U.S. Embassy, now operating with a skeleton staff from Kabul Airport, warned:
Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so.
U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.
The main entrance is still open.
Ross Wilson, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Kabul, blamed Americans who were still present for not leaving earlier:
“People chose not to leave – that’s their business, that’s their right. We regret now that many may find themselves in a position that they would rather not be in.”
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stained there are far less than 1,000 Americans who remain in Afghanistan:
“From the list of approximately 1,000, we believe that the number of Americans actively seeking assistance to leave Afghanistan is lower, and likely significantly lower.”
Even if true, however, there are thousands of Afghans who remain stuck and are desperately trying to leave the country ahead of the August 31st withdrawal deadline. But the Taliban have said they will no longer allow Afghans to leave the country. A Taliban spokesperson confirmed:
“The road, which goes to the airport, is blocked. Afghans cannot take that road to go to the airport, but foreign nationals are allowed to take that road to the airport. We are not allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore and we are not happy with it either.”
He added that doctors and other professionals “should not leave this country, they should work in their own specialist areas. They should not go to other countries, to those Western countries.”
Meanwhile, Britain had advised its remaining citizens to flee to the Pakistan border.
With the situation rapidly deteriorating, Americans could theoretically pull out even ahead of the August 31st deadline, which both President Biden and the Taliban have refused to extend. Plans are now underway to evacuate remaining U.S. and other western troops as the Taliban prepare to retake full control after the 20-year war.
To those still stuck and trying to get out: godspeed.
image: @saadmohseni / Twitter