ISIS have claimed responsibility for devastating twin attacks that struck Kabul, killing at least 72 people.
The group posted a statement claiming responsibility from their Telegram account on Thursday, following the attacks earlier today.
The two explosions, one of which hit Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate, the other the Baron Hotel, had been blamed on ISIS-K, a regional affiliate of the so-called Islamic State that operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri of ISIS-K was the suicide bomber responsible for the blast at Abbey Gate, according to ISIS. The Gate is manned by US and UK troops.
The blasts killed at least 72 people, including 12 US servicemen, and injured more than 140 more, according to official sources.
On Thursday evening, a CBS reporter based in Afghanistan posted on Twitter that the death toll had risen to 90, with 150 people injured.
Founded in 2015, ISIS-K followers aim to establish an Islamic caliphate across Khorasan (hence the initial ‘K’) – a historic region covering Pakistan and Afghanistan along with parts of Central Asia.
Prior to Thursday’s attacks, the US had warned that the group would likely target the thousands of people gathering at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport as they attempt to flee the country following the Taliban takeover on August 15 and before the August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO forces.
The organisation has already carried out roughly 100 attacks against civilian targets and another 250 involving US, Afghan or Pakistani security services, most of them chronicled via mobile phone videos then broadcast online.
In May, ISIS-K killed at least 68 Afghans and injured another 165 when they detonated three car bombs outside the Syed Al-Shahda school for girls in Kabul.
The vast majority of the victims were young pupils the Islamist group regard as legitimate targets because they do not believe women and girls should be educated.
The attack came after a period in which Western air strikes had killed thousands of the terror network’s supporters and at least three of its leaders.
The organisation’s chosen first Emir, or leader, was a former Pakistani Taliban commander called Hafiz Saeed Khan, who was killed in 2016.
His foot-soldiers were largely defectors from the Taliban as was his canny PR chief, Sheikh Maqbool, who was charged with ensuring that the group’s attacks gained worldwide attention.