Two explosions rocked the area outside Kabul airport Thursday, leaving a number of casualties and throwing evacuation efforts into more turmoil days before President Joe Biden’s deadline for the United States to leave the country.
At least 13 people including children were killed and many others were injured, Taliban sources told NBC News, in what they described as a suicide attack.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said at least 13 people had died.
An initial blast outside the airport’s Abbey Gate was the “result of a complex attack” that caused a number of U.S. and civilian casualties, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Twitter.
Three U.S. Marines were injured in that blast, according to three U.S. military officials.
Kirby added that there was “at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”
While it was immediately unclear who was behind the explosion, two U.S. intelligence officials said the assumption is that it was an IED attack carried out by the Islamic State group’s Afghan affiliate, ISIS-K.
The explosions came hours after the United States and its allies warned of a potential terror attack as thousands crowded the airport in a desperate effort to flee in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover.
Western countries had urged people to avoid traveling to the area, in the latest setback for the massive airlift out of the Afghan capital.
“My thoughts are with all those affected and their loved ones. Our priority remains to evacuate as many people to safety as quickly as possible,” he said on Twitter after the explosions.