AFGHANISTAN – Daesh suicide bombers attacked a crowd of Afghans massed at the airport on Thursday, August 26, Kabul in the hope of fleeing the new Taliban regime, killing dozens, including at least thirteen American soldiers.
Point by point, discover below the course of these tragic events in Kabul, the various international reactions and what is expected in the days to come.
A suicide bombing, which took the form of a double explosion, was carried out near Abbey Gate, one of the three access points to the airport where a crowd of thousands of Afghans thronged. who was waiting to be evacuated.
After the explosions, videos posted on social networks showed dozens of victims, dead or injured, lying in the brackish water of a sewer canal, surrounded by overwhelmed and helpless rescuers.
“It was a huge explosion, in the middle of the crowd which was waiting in front of one of the doors of the airport”, where people enter who are being evacuated by the Westerners, declared to AFP a witness of the scene, Milad. .
“It was total panic. The Taliban then fired in the air to disperse the people waiting in front of the door, ”another witness told AFP, who notably saw“ a man running with an injured baby in his arms ”.
According to Washington, which expects Daesh attacks to “continue”, this attack was carried out by two suicide bombers from the jihadist group, followed by a shootout.
A third powerful explosion was also heard in Kabul around midnight, raising fears of a new attack. But the Taliban regime said shortly after that it was not due to an attack but to destruction of equipment by the US military at the airport, which the latter did not immediately confirm.
The balance sheet
The double explosion killed at least thirteen American soldiers and injured eighteen others, according to the Pentagon. The Taliban regime has recorded up to twenty dead and 52 wounded. But other sources evoke a much heavier toll.
A senior health official in the pre-Taliban government, who requested anonymity, said the death toll could reach 60, a figure not confirmed by other sources.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, the specialist site Site Intelligence reported.
In a statement released by its propaganda agency Amaq, ISIS claims that one of its fighters broke through “all security fortifications” and approached within “5 meters of US military” before releasing his belt explosive.
The press release mentions only one suicide bomber, and only one bomb. The Pentagon, however, reported two suicide bombings followed by a shooting. The United States threatened the Islamic State group with reprisals.
Under the name ISKP (Islamic State Khorasan Province), IS has claimed responsibility for some of the bloodiest attacks in Afghanistan in recent years, killing hundreds, especially among Shia Muslims. Even though they are two radical Sunni groups, ISIS and the Taliban are in competition and are animated by a stubborn and reciprocal hatred.
Joe Biden’s reaction
“We will chase you and we will make you pay”, Joe Biden launched shortly after the perpetrators of this attack, the deadliest against the US military in Afghanistan since 2011 and which was therefore claimed by Daesh.
With tears in his eyes, the American president paid tribute to the soldiers killed, “heroes (…) engaged in a dangerous and altruistic mission to save other lives”.
“America will not be intimidated,” he said. “We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission ”.
He added that he had not so far “proof” of a “collusion” between the Taliban and Daesh, two groups with strong divergences and which clashed in recent years, in the organization of this attack. .
The reaction of western countries
In reaction to the attack, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a Security Council meeting on Afghanistan.
The West condemned the attack, stressing that it should not prevent the continuation of the mass evacuations, which have so far made it possible to remove nearly 100,000 people.
Emmanuel Macron condemned “with the greatest firmness (these) terrorist attacks” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced an “absolutely despicable” attack.
After the explosions, Paris announced the repatriation to France for security reasons of its ambassador to Afghanistan David Martinon, who had previously been at Kabul airport.
The Taliban’s reaction
The new Taliban regime, through its spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, “strongly condemned” these “bombings”, while stressing that they had taken place in an area under the responsibility of the American army.
The pace of the evacuations, which had continued to accelerate in recent days, had started to slow down on Wednesday.
According to a report from the White House Thursday morning, 13,400 people have been evacuated in the past 24 hours (5,100 on board 17 American military planes and 8,300 on 74 coalition planes), despite a chaotic situation at the airport caused by the influx of candidates at the start.
Germany has announced that it has ended its evacuation flights, like the Netherlands and Canada. Other countries like UK and France they said to continue their evacuations.
This is also the case of the United States since Joe Biden confirmed that the gigantic operation to evacuate civilians would continue until the withdrawal of American troops on August 31.
The head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken had assured Wednesday that the Taliban had engaged to release at-risk Americans and Afghans still in the country after August 31. Germany said it was assured they could take commercial flights.
The imminent end of the evacuations raises fears that many Afghans who have worked in recent years with foreigners or the deposed pro-Western government and feel threatened by the Taliban, may not all leave the country in time.
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