US soldiers and Afghan civilians killed in Islamic State attacks

The so-called Islamic State carried out two suicide bombings near the Kabul airport on Wednesday, killing US soldiers and Afghan civilians.

At least 12 US service members were killed and 15 more injured, the Pentagon said. An Afghan official told the Associated Press that at least 60 Afghans were killed.

The attacks followed several warnings that there was a risk of an imminent terror attack.

The IS affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attacks and said it targeted US troops and Afghan allies.

The explosions, confirmed by the US and the German military, occurred around 3.20 pm CEST.

It comes as thousands of Westerners and Afghans scramble to get on flights out of the country before the deadline of August 31, seen as a red line by the Taliban.

Several countries, including Germany, have ended their evacuation efforts due to the security situation on the ground.

The US Pentagon has said they will continue their mission to evacuate US citizens, Afghans who worked with the international forces, and vulnerable Afghans.

“We continue to execute our number one mission which is to get as many American citizens and other evacuees as possible out of Afghanistan,” said General Frank McKenzie, who is overseeing the operation at the Kabul airport.

“The plan is designed to operate while under stress and while under attack,” he added.

Here’s a look at how the events unfolded throughout the day.

Amrullah Saleh, who has claimed the office of acting president of Afghanistan since 17 August, has told Euronews he believes “the Taliban is behind today’s bombing”.

Just before the explosions, Kirby had tweeted that the US was not wrapping up its evacuation mission, and would continue up until the deadline of 31 August.

Abbey Gate is one of three access points to the airport where thousands of Afghans have been flocking for the past 12 days, anxious to leave the country now in the hands of the Taliban.

The French ambassador to Afghanistan, David Martinon, tweeted following the explosion: “To all our Afghan friends: If you are near the airport gates, get away urgently and take cover. A second explosion is possible.”

Britain, the United States and Australia had been warning of an attack. They had issued urgent warnings telling their nationals to move away from Kabul airport as quickly as possible due to “terrorist” threats.

British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC early Thursday there was ”very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack” at the airport, possibly within “hours.” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said his country had received information from the U.S. and other countries about the “threat of suicide attacks on the mass of people”.

The acting US ambassador to Kabul, Ross Wilson, said the security threat at the Kabul airport overnight was “clearly regarded as credible, as imminent, as compelling.”

But in an interview with ABC News, he would not give details and did not say whether the threat remained.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that any attack was imminent in the wake of those warnings.

Some countries have already ended their evacuations and begun to withdraw their soldiers and diplomats from the country, signalling the beginning of the end of one of history’s largest airlifts.

The Taliban have pledged not to attack Western forces during the evacuation, but insist the foreign troops must be out by the deadline.

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