Biden Vows Vengeance on Kabul Airport Attackers
U.S. President Joe Biden is vowing vengeance on those responsible for Thursday’s deadly attacks outside the Kabul airport that killed at least 13 American military personnel and dozens of civilians who had gathered there in hopes of fleeing the Taliban-controlled country. ”To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive,” Biden said in a nationally broadcast address. “We will hunt you down and make you pay.”The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks in a report on its news agency’s Telegram channel, hours after suicide bombers had struck two locations along the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport: near the Abbey Gate and outside a nearby hotel. A map of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, showing the location of two explosions on Aug. 26, 2021.A regional offshoot of Islamic State known as ISIS-Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K, has been blamed for the attacks.Biden said he had ordered commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities, saying, “We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose and the moment of our choosing.” Shortly after the president’s remark, the White House press secretary amplified his message: “We will hunt down these terrorists and kill them wherever they are.”A screen grab shows people carrying an injured person to a hospital after an attack at Kabul’s airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan Aug. 26, 2021. An Islamic State offshoot claimed responsibility for deadly suicide attacks outside the airport.Biden and Psaki said there was no evidence, so far, of collusion between the Taliban, which seized control of Kabul nearly two weeks ago, and ISIS in carrying out the attacks. The United Nations and NATO condemned the attacks, as did Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid. Speaking about the first blast, a senior Taliban source confirmed to VOA that a suicide bomber had blown himself up in an area holding a large number of people. Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 6 MB480p | 8 MB540p | 10 MB720p | 22 MB1080p | 43 MBOriginal | 49 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioThe explosions came hours after Western governments had warned of the threat of a terror attack at the airport and said those gathered in the area should move to a safe location. ”The overall sense of mission is focused right now at the (passenger) terminal. Lots of Marines and consular officers cared deeply about the Afghans we were helping,” said a U.S. State Department official who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity. The U.S. is ”trying to carry on with the mission ahead while knowing our security is severely compromised,” the official said. “Attacks occurred right at our shift change; otherwise, consular officers might have been casualties, too.” Many of those wounded Thursday arrived at Kabul’s Emergency Hospital, run by an international nongovernmental organization that treats victims of war and landmines. Afghan news channels tweeted pictures of civilians transporting their wounded in wheelbarrows.In Pictures: People injured in explosion near Kabul airport pic.twitter.com/WQ8sdjvODG— 1TVNewsAF (@1TVNewsAF) August 26, 2021 Pakistan officials have asked that beginning Friday, hotels across the capital, Islamabad, cancel reservations and keep all rooms at the government’s disposal for at least three weeks to accommodate the thousands of foreigners being urgently evacuated from Afghanistan. Biden on Thursday issued a proclamation lowering U.S. flags across the country through August 30 “as a mark of respect for the U.S. service members and other victims killed in the terrorist attack.”Minutes later, the flag above the White House was lowered to half-staff.The flag has just been lowered here at the @WhiteHouse. pic.twitter.com/0T4o4g7fn1— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) August 26, 2021Ayaz Gul, Ayesha Tanzeem, Carla Babb, Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report.