The moment when the explosion occurred at Kabul airport
PC : Barzan Sadiq/twitter

Two explosions rocked areas near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday.

The first explosion, which took place near the airport’s eastern gate, was attributed to bomb planted in a vehicle, and local media say a firefight took place involving unknown militants and US-led coalition forces tasked with guarding the airport amid the continued evacuation of troops, diplomats and civilians.

A second explosion, believed to have been caused by a suicide bomber, hit near a hotel situated near the airport and used by British and US forces. Reporters citing unnamed State Department officials said that ‘four or more’ US troops have been injured in that attack.

An official from the militant group’s political office told Sputnik that the Taliban is unaware of who is responsible for the attacks. At least 13 people were killed in the blasts, according to the Taliban.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said “several” Taliban fighters guarding the airport were injured in one of the blasts. “We categorically condemn what happened,” Mujahid said, his remarks quoted by Lebanon’s Al-Mayadin TV.

Later in the day, Mujahid told Sputnik that 52 people were injured in the attacks.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has confirmed via Twitter that two explosions took place, and said the “complex attack” caused an unspecified number of “US and civilian casualties.”

We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties. We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate. We will continue to update.— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 26, 2021

A US official source told media that casualties are expected to increase based on initial information. Graphic footage circulating online shows what seems like dozens of fatalities.

A Fox News reporter said that as many as “hundreds” of Daesh-Khorasan fighters may be in the vicinity of the airport and that the attacks are likely to continue.

An informed source told CNN that President Joe Biden has been made aware of the incident. Separately, Axios reported that the attacks prompted the president to put off his planned talks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who is in Washington for talks.

Turkey’s Defence Ministry confirmed the explosions, and indicated that Turkish forces were not affected.

Photos and footage from the scene show blood-soaked civilians being led out of the affected area near the airport and hotel.

🇦🇫🇬🇧⚡Explosion #Video appears to have happened near Baron Hotel across from Kabul airport. Baron was used largely by British forces. Many injured.#Afghanistan #KabulAiport pic.twitter.com/ZLfbU5vQzq— BWF Military News (@MilitaryBWF) August 26, 2021

The moment when the explosion occurred at #Kabul airport. pic.twitter.com/m6uB22Yg7p— Barzan Sadiq (@BarzanSadiq) August 26, 2021

شاهدان عینی از وقوع یک انفجار در میدان هوایی کابل خبر داده‌اند. در محل رویداد، ۱۱ کشته و زخمی را که شهروندان خارجی اند را دیده است. به‌گفته‌ی اطلاعات روز، در این رویداد به غیرنظامیان نیز تلفات وارد شده است.#قادر_فولاد pic.twitter.com/tsSxJfHByD— Abdul Qader Folad فعال سیاسی و خبرنگار آزاد (@folad_qader) August 26, 2021

Afghan TV broadcaster TOLO News showed a chaotic scene outside an emergency hospital admitting patients who were injured in the attacks.

Terrible scenes from outside the emergency hospital in Kabul via ⁦@TOLOnews⁩ pic.twitter.com/J7sU4w70jX— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) August 26, 2021

France’s ambassador to Afghanistan asked people in the vicinity of the airport to leave the area immediately after the first explosion, fearing that another blast was possible.

À tous nos amis afghans : si vous êtes près des portes de l’aéroport, éloignez-vous de toute urgence et mettez-vous à l’abri. Une deuxième explosion est possible.— David Martinon (@david_martinon) August 26, 2021

The incident, which High Council for National Reconciliation chief Abdullah Abdullah formally has classified as a terrorist attack, has caused a a halt in the evacuation process.

Thursday’s attack came just hours James Heappey, British parliamentary under-secretary of state for the armed forces, warned that there was “very, very credible reporting of [the threat of] an imminent attack” on the Kabul airport.

A Biden administration source and another source told Politico that the White House attributes the terror attack on the airport to Daesh. Local media have reported that the terrorist group’s Afghanistan branch – ISIS-Khorasan, has claimed responsibility.

ISIS-Khorasan and the Taliban have been at war with one another for years, and the Taliban has repeatedly promised Afghanistan’s neighbours and other state actors that it would strive to keep the foreign terrorist group out of the areas of the country that it controls.

Thursday’s attack comes amid the ongoing withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, with US officials pledging to complete the pullout by the end of August as planned. Tens of thousands of military personnel, Western diplomats and Afghans who assisted US forces during the 19+ year occupation of Afghanistan have been evacuated to date. The emergency evacuations come in the wake of the sudden and unexpected disintegration of the Afghan government on 15 August following the Taliban’s offensive to take Kabul and other major cities.