According to the Associated Press, as the call to prayer echoed through Kabul along with the roar of departing planes, the anxious crowd outside the airport was as large as ever. Dozens of Taliban members carrying heavy weapons patrolled one area about 500 meters (1,600 feet) from the airport to prevent anyone from venturing beyond.
In what was the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since August 2011, the bombings near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Internation Airport on Thursday killed at least 100 Afghans and 13 US troops, Afghan and American officials said.
The Afghan offshoot of the terror organisation “Islamic State,” known as ISIS-Khorasan, IS-K or ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attacks. The group takes its name from the Khorasan Province, an area that once included wide swathes of Afghanistan, Iran and central Asia in the Middle Ages.
Afghan officials warned that the actual toll could be higher, with morgues stretched to capacity and the possibility that relatives are taking bodies away from the scene.
The news agency said that at least 10 bodies lay on the grounds outside Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital, where relatives said the mortuary could take no more. . Afghans said many of the dead are unclaimed because family members are travelling from distant provinces.
China condemns Kabul attacks, keeps embassy open
China says it condemns the attacks on Kabul airport and is “ready to work with the international community to address the threat of terrorism and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a source of terrorism again”.
The comments from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday afternoon were Beijing’s first comments on the suicide bombings near the Kabul airport. The spokesperson said that no Chinese national was killed or injured in the attacks and that China had advised its citizens in the country to “strengthen security precautions.”
Despite the chaos since the Taliban took over, China has kept its embassy in Kabul open and recently hosted talks between the Taliban and its ambassador. “The head of the Afghan Taliban has made it clear to China that he will never allow any forces to use Afghan territory to do things detrimental to China,” Zhao was quoted as saying by AP.
Russia says danger in Afghanistan remains high
The Kremlin has said that danger remained high for everyone in Afghanistan after the Kabul airport attack and that Islamic State and other militant groups were trying to capitalise on the chaos in the country.
Russia’s intelligence services are working round the clock to prevent any spillover into neighbouring regions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
UK says it’s in last stages of Kabul evacuations
The British Defence Ministry said its forces have entered the final stages of evacuating people from Kabul’s airport and have closed processing facilities.
Processing facilities inside the Baron Hotel in Kabul have been closed.
“Our top priority as we move through this process will be the protection of all those involved who are operating in a heightened threat environment” – @BWallaceMP
Read more here??https://t.co/deG1EYF0XP
— Ministry of Defence Press Office (@DefenceHQPress) August 27, 2021
The effort would now focus on evacuating British nationals and others who have already been cleared to leave and are already at the airport, the ministry said. No further people would be called forward to the airport for evacuation, it said.
“It is with deep regret that not everyone has been able to be evacuated during this process,” Defence Minister Ben Wallace said in a statement.
‘Will hunt you down’: Biden warns Kabul airport attackers
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden vowed to complete the evacuation of American citizens and others from Afghanistan despite the deadly suicide bomb attacks at the Kabul airport. He also promised to avenge the deaths, declaring to the extremists responsible: “We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
Speaking with emotion from the White House, Biden said the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate was to blame for the attacks that killed 13 American service members and many more Afghan civilians. He said there was no evidence they colluded with the Taliban, who now control the country.
“We have some reason to believe we know who they are,” he said of the bombers and gunmen involved. “Not certain.”
He said he had instructed military commanders to develop plans to strike IS “assets, leadership and facilities.”
“We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place of our choosing,” Biden said, adding, “These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans; we will get our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated.”