An explosion outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday has resulted in a yet-unknown number of casualties, hitting a highly populated area of the airport where thousands have gathered seeking to flee the country after the Taliban took political control of the country earlier this month.
Several media agencies have also reported of a second explosion taking place at a nearby hotel. Both explosions were confirmed by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
Kirby confirmed the initial explosion in a statement on Twitter. Some news agencies had reported that witnesses had seen a substantial casualty count, while others reported that at least 13 individuals had been killed due to the blast.
The U.S. State Department also announced that “four or more U.S. service personnel” are believed to have been among those who were harmed by the blast. It was left unclear what their current status was.
The blast took place at the Abbey Gate, the main entry point to the airport, just after 5 p.m. local time. Early reports of the explosion suggested that it was carried out by at least one suicide bomber who was wearing a vest laden with explosives.
Shortly after his first tweet confirming the explosion at the airport, Kirby confirmed that a second explosion had occurred.
“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,” Kirby wrote.
The hotel is an area of the city where many Americans have gathered in order to coordinate their exit from the country with U.S. officials.
According to reporting from Politico, which cited a U.S. official who was familiar with the attack, the airport bombing was perpetrated by an individual affiliated with ISIS (also known as Daesh).
Hours prior to the first explosion, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan had warned Americans who were outside the airport waiting to be transported out of the country to leave the area immediately. They cited unspecified security threats, and discouraged travel to the airport.
“This is a dynamic and volatile security situation on the ground…. We take seriously the priority we attach to the safety and security of American citizens,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement regarding the threat.