Death toll from Kabul airport attacks rises to 103, Taliban official says no evacuation deadline extension

2021-08-27 15:31:57Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

An unnamed Taliban official, quoted by media reports Friday, has said there is no reason to extend the deadline for foreign forces to leave the country as the death toll from the Kabul airport attacks on Thursday has reportedly risen to at least 103.

The Taliban official also said that more than 20 Taliban members were killed at the airport attacks. Watch towers will be reportedly set up by Taliban guards around airports in the country.

Unconfirmed reports said at least 40 dead bodies and 120 wounded were transferred to Kabul hospitals.

The number of U.S. service members killed in the attacks has risen to 13, with 18 more injured troops currently in the process of being flown out of the country, according to the latest update by Bill Urban, public affairs officer of the U.S. Central Command.

Another huge explosion was heard in the Afghan capital Kabul early Friday, hours after the deadly twin bomb blasts at the Kabul airport on Thursday.

However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement on Twitter that it was a controlled explosion by U.S. troops destroying equipment at the airport.

Earlier, the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on the Kabul airport, saying it was targeting "translators and collaborators with the American army."

The first explosion struck the north gate, a military gate of the Kabul airport. The second massive blast occured about 30 minutes later in Baron Camp, a military base near the airport used by coalition forces in the past.

"A suicide bomb blast occurred in the middle of a crowd roughly at 6:00 p.m. local time outside a crowded gate of the airport," witness Abdul Wakil told Xinhua by phone.

People were shifting the wounded by hand carts and stretchers as the road leading to the airport's Abbey Gate was blocked in the past days.

Ambulances, taxis and vehicles arrived near the site shortly after the blast, he said.

Local TV channel Tolo News aired a footage from an emergency hospital where dozens of vehicles were shifting the wounded.

The blasts, reportedly caused by suicide bombers, happened after Western nations warned of a terrorist attack at the airport as thousands of people gathered waiting for evacuation flights to leave the country.

As the Aug. 31 deadline looms for the U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, the United States has been scrambling to evacuate Americans and its Afghan partners from the country since the Taliban took control of Kabul on Aug. 15.

Thousands of U.S. and coalition forces soldiers were stationed inside the airport while Taliban members provided security for the outside of the facility.

The Taliban condemned the bombing outside Kabul airport, saying it happened at an area where U.S. forces are responsible for security.

At least 90,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul airport since Aug. 14, one day before the Taliban captured Kabul.


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