UNITED STATES: Another attack on Kabul airport is “highly likely in the next 24-36 hours”, U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday has warned, saying commanders have told him it could come as early as Sunday. Hours later, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a security alert.
“Due to a specific, credible threat, all U.S. citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport (HKIA), including the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport should leave the airport area immediately,” the alert read.
The U.S. is continuing evacuations but the final U.K. troops, diplomats and officials have now left Kabul.
A suicide bombing by the local branch of the Islamic State group – Islamic State in Khorasan Province (IS-K) at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday resulted in the death of at least 169 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members.
The U.S. retaliated by carrying out a drone strike on Nangahar of eastern Afghanistan late on Friday, saying it had killed two “high-profile” IS-K members.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said all the targets were hit in a single strike, and that they were “ISIS-K planners and facilitators.”
“I’m not going to talk about specific capabilities ISIS may have lost in this strike. They lost a planner, and they lost a facilitator. And they have one wounded. The fact two of these individuals are no longer walking on the face of the Earth, that’s a good thing,” Kirby said on Saturday.
“This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay,” President Biden said in the statement released on Saturday.
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” said the president.
IS-K is the most extreme and violent of all the jihadist militant groups in Afghanistan and has major differences with the Taliban, who now control most of the country. It accuses them of abandoning the battlefield in favour of a negotiated peace settlement with the Americans.
The Taliban condemned the airstrike, saying the Americans should have consulted them first, a spokesman told Reuters news agency.