Updated at 10:05 a.m. E.T. 8/27/21
U.S. officials have confirmed that 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans were killed in two blasts that occurred Thursday near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“We can confirm that a number of U.S. service members were killed in today’s complex attack at Kabul airport,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in a statement made earlier today. “A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack.”
The first explosion occurred at the Abbey Gate outside of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. The second explosion later occurred at the Baron Hotel, which is near the airport.
An ISIS affiliate in the country, known as ISIS-K, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The news comes a day after United States officials warned American citizens in Afghanistan to avoid the Kabul airport, citing “a grave and specific ISIS terror threat,” CNN reports.
The warnings came after a U.S. defense official told the news outlet of a “very specific threat stream” from the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, targeting crowds that have gathered outside of the airport as thousands attempt to flee the Taliban.
The situation in Afghanistan has been evolving rapidly in the past week, since Taliban forces began to retake the country on August 15, following the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Since August 14, 82,300 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan according to Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, in a statement released by the State Department. 19,000 of those were evacuated within a 24-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. 4,500 of the evacuees were American citizens, with an estimated 1,500 still remaining in Afghanistan.
The State Department is in contact with 500 of the remaining U.S. citizens and has provided them with specific instructions for how to get to the airport safely, Blinken said. The remaining 1,000 remain unaccounted for, despite the State Department’s attempts to make contact.
The Biden administration has been criticized for its handling of the withdrawal, which has left thousands of Americans and Afghans scrambling to escape the advancing Taliban forces. Many of the Afghans had worked closely with U.S. forces during the decades’-long war, and now fear reprisal at the hands of the Taliban.