KABUL, Afghanistan — A dozen U.S. troops were killed and 15 were injured following an ISIS attack at the Kabul airport, according to the Pentagon.
The attack occurred in an area where thousands of people were gathering to leave the country in an evacuation effort by the U.S. and NATO allies. Thursday marked the deadliest U.S. casualty event in Afghanistan since 2011 and days away from a complete U.S. troop withdrawal.
“We try to push out the boundary even further so we don’t get large crowds massing at the gate,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters. “Clearly at Abbey Gate today we had a larger crowd there than we would like. Which goes to show you the system is not perfect.”
An ISIS militant wearing a suicide vest was responsible for the first bombing, which took place around 5 p.m. local time just outside Abbey Gate. Video of the bombing showed dozens of bodies thrown across a sewage canal around the Kabul airport, which President Joe Biden said was vulnerable to terror attacks.
The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the bombing, which saw the attacker detonate his explosive belt at the airport’s gate.
The Biden administration has been in contact with the Taliban on security measures outside the airport. Late Thursday, Biden addressed the nation and vowed to respond to the attacks.
“We will not forgive,” he said. “We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
In a press conference at the Pentagon on Thursday, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie said the United States is planning to take action against those who killed U.S. troops.
“Yes, if we can find who’s associated with this, we will go after them. We’ve been clear all along that we retain the right to operate against ISIS in Afghanistan,” he said. “We’re prepared to take action against them, 24/7, we are looking for them.”
The Taliban had “started investigations on different levels to identify perpetrators of this terrorist incident and their motives,” a spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, said.
The Taliban said 13 people were killed, including children, and 65 were injured in what they described as a suicide attack.
This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.