Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Afghanistan is again under the control of the Taliban, a fundamentalist group that ruled the nation for five years before U.S forces removed them in 2001. Refugees fleeing the group's ultraconservative brand of Islam have swelled the population of Kabul, and the airport has been besieged by Afghans desperate to find a way out.
President Biden told world leaders Tuesday that the U.S. was on pace to leave Afghanistan by Aug. 31, according to the White House, while the Taliban have said they would prevent Afghans from entering the Kabul airport to evacuate, potentially endangering tens of thousands of people who worked with Western governments and agencies and who now fear reprisals from the country’s Islamist leaders after the Americans and their allies leave. On Thursday, tension rose further after two explosions at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, killing at least 90 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members and disrupting last-minute evacuation efforts.
What do we know about the explosions at the Kabul airport?
The explosions came on Thursday (26th Aug) afternoon as a crowd of Afghans tried to enter the airport, where the U.S. military is attempting to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghans who had worked with Western governments or agencies. A suicide bomb attack at the Abbey Gate entrance to the airport was accompanied by a gun assault, officials said and followed by a second bomb attack at a hotel outside the airport. The Pentagon said that in addition to the 13 U.S. service members killed, another 15 were injured, as well as the scores of Afghans who were killed.
An Afghan man at the scene said he saw maimed and blood-smeared people being pulled out from the scene, where thousands of people had congregated.