Around 100 people are dead and many others have been injured after twin blasts rocked Kabul airport on Thursday. While Afghanistan is no stranger to violence and bloodshed, the latest attack amid a frantic rush to evacuate the country has shocked the world. Eyewitnesses describe flying body parts and rivulets of blood flowing through the sewage canals even as desperate civilians continue to wait in line for the possibility of leaving aboard one of the evacuation flights.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, with reports citing Amaq news agency's Telegram channel to say that an IS member by the name of Abdul Rahman al-Logari had allegedly carried out "the martyrdom operation" near the Airport.
The attack has provoked a mixed bag of reactions from the global community with some countries taking the decision to halt the evacuation process. The Biden administration continues to go ahead with their evacuation plans, with the lack of direct retaliation to the IS provocation being dubbed something of a deviation from previous eras.
Biden however hit out at the perpetrators of the attacks in no uncertain terms, vowing to hunt the terrorists down and 'make them pay' for the incident that killed dozens of civilians and 13 US Marines. The president said the ISIS-K was behind the gruesome attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and at a hotel nearby.
"To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm notice, we will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command," Biden told reporters at the White House on Thursday. The President also ordered that the US flag will be flown at half-mast until the evening of August 30 to honour the victims.
The US, he added, would "respond with force and precision at our time at the place we choose in a moment of our choosing". Biden added that he had has ordered his commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities.
While the US continues to remain wary of the Taliban, Biden believes that it is in the militant's "self-interest" to have the US leave on time and "get as many people out as we can". While he stated that the insurgents were "not good guys", the President noted that there was no evidence to suggest a collusion between the Taliban and the ISIS in carrying out the airport attack. "It is in the interest of the Taliban that the ISIS-K does not metastasize beyond what it is," Biden told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
Despite the strong comments however, the Pentagon is reportedly bracing for fresh IS attacks in the days to come. As per a Reuters report quoting the head of the US military's Central Command, the threat from the IS and others persist. Future potential attacks, General Frank McKenzie added, could include rockets being fired at the airport or car bombs attempting to get in.
Biden had earlier said that the Islamic State-Khorasan terror group had planned complex attacks against US forces and others in Afghanistan after they were released from prisons during the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
(With inputs from agencies)
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