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DEVELOPING: 2 large explosions at Kabul airport; US troops killed or injured

U.S. Marines assist with security at an Evacuation Control Checkpoint during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 20, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla)
August 26, 2021

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates as more information becomes available.

The area around the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan was rocked by at least two explosions on Thursday, which resulted in U.S. and civilian casualties. As many as four U.S. service members were reported injured or killed in the attack.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tweeted, “We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties. We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate. We will continue to update.”

CNN contributor Frida Ghitis also tweeted, “State Department: ‘Initial reports suggest four or more U.S. service personnel may have been injured or killed in the explosion.'”

One Twitter user tweeted video purporting to show the crowd in the aftermath of the explosion. They tweeted, “Explosion #Video appears to have happened near Baron Hotel across from Kabul airport. Baron was used largely by British forces. Many injured. #Afghanistan #KabulAiport.”

“More Explosion #Photos appears to have happened near Baron Hotel across from Kabul airport. Baron was used largely by British forces. Many injured. #Afghanistan #KabulAiport.”

Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary also tweeted, “Sewage canal where Afghans were vetted after their documents was packed with Afghans including women and children. A suicide attacker blew himself up in the middle of a large crowd. At least another attacker started shooting, multiple eye witnesses in the area&a friend tells me.”

Sky News tweeted, “At least 13 people have been killed in an explosion outside Kabul airport, a Taliban official has told Reuters news agency. Children are among those killed and Taliban guards have been wounded, the spokesperson said.”

The explosion came hours after the U.S., U.K. and Australia all warned their citizens on Thursday to avoid the Kabul airport after multiple threats of attack. In a Thursday interview with the BBC, U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said, “There is now very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack.”

Despite the prior warnings, many people continued to rush for the Kabul airport in hopes of getting out of the country. Heappey said, “People are desperate, people are fearing for their lives anyway, and so I think there’s an appetite among many in the queue to take their chances.”

One official told the Associated Press they believe the threat could be from a suicide bombing. The Islamic State terror group’s Afghan branch, known as ISIS-Khorasan or ISIS-K, has been seen as a leading terror threat throughout the evacuation efforts. The Associated Press reported ISIS-K’s ranks have been bolstered after the Taliban have freed thousands of prisoners during their takeover of Afghanistan.

The threats to the airport come in the final hours of evacuation efforts for many countries. Denmark’s last flight has already departed, and Poland and Belgium have also announced the end of their evacuations, while the Dutch government said it had been told by the U.S. to leave by Thursday. A source for CNN also said the U.K. government would be departing on Thursday night.

The number of Americans still waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan is unclear.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there were about 500 Americans who had needed help to get to the Kabul airport and another 1,000 people who might need help, but whose citizenship or desire to leave were uncertain.