- President Joe Biden, who is under intense scrutiny for his administration’s handling of the Afghan issue, stated that the airlift will not be halted and pledged to punish those guilty.
- The blasts occurred just hours after Western authorities warned of a major attack and urged people to flee the airport.
On Thursday, twin suicide bombers ripped through crowds outside Kabul airport, killing scores of people, including 13 US personnel, and escalating fear in the final days of an already frenetic evacuation operation from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The ISIS-claimed explosions left scenes of devastation outside the airport, where hundreds of Afghans anxious to leave their country had gathered despite a flurry of foreign official warnings issued only hours earlier that a major terror attack was coming.
President Joe Biden, who is under intense scrutiny for his administration’s handling of the Afghan issue, stated that the airlift will not be halted and pledged to punish those responsible.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said.
However, Biden emphasised that all American soldiers must leave Afghanistan, and that the airlift will finish by Tuesday, owing in part to the risk of further IS attacks.
More than 100,000 Afghans have been airlifted out of Afghanistan since the Taliban took control on August 15, with Afghans anxious to escape the fundamentalist Islamists fearing harsh rule.
The Taliban had agreed to permited US-led forces to execute the airlift while intending to form their own government as soon as the Americans depart.
However, the IS jihadists, rivals of the Taliban with a track record of brutal atrocities in Afghanistan, were determined to profit from the instability in Kabul.
The suicide bombers targeted passengers attempting to enter the airport’s entry gates, resulting in scenes of terror and destruction.
Footage uploaded on social media showed men and women trapped in a drainage canal’s shin-deep water.
Stunned survivors struggled to their feet, as others pleaded for assistance in scouring the carnage for loved ones.
The Italian NGO Emergency said that their Kabul hospital had been swamped by a “huge influx” of more than 60 patients, 16 of whom were confirmed dead on arrival.
The injured “could not talk, many were scared, their eyes utterly lost in emptiness, their look blank,” said Alberto Zanin, the hospital’s medical coordinator, in a post on the group’s Twitter account.
ISIS Claims Responsibility
Some of the worst assaults in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been perpetrated by the ISIS State’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter in recent years.
It has slaughtered innocent citizens in mosques, shrines, public squares, and even hospitals.
The group has specifically targeted Muslims from heretical sects, such as Shia.
However, while both IS and the Taliban are hardcore Sunni ISIS militants, they hate one another.
“These are people who are much more radical than the Taliban and are essentially at war with Taliban. So, it’s a sickeningly complicated situation,” said Dutton, Australia’s defence minister.
The Taliban have pledged a softer kind of leadership than their last tenure, which ended in 2001 when the US invaded because they provided safe haven to Al-Qaeda.
Many Afghans, however, fear a return to the Taliban’s draconian interpretation of Islamic law, as well as deadly retaliation for cooperating with foreign armies, Western missions, or the former US-backed government.
Women, who were mainly barred from school and employment and could only leave the house with a male escort under the group’s 1996-2001 rule, are particularly concerned.