Twelve 12 US serviceman have been killed and 15 more have been injured in two bomb attacks outside Kabul airport today, while reports suggest explosions across the city have continued into the night.
Jihadist splinter group ISIS-K are believed to be behind the two earlier blasts outside the gates of Kabul airport, where thousands of Afghans have been awaiting for evacuation by Western forces.
Senior health officials in Kabul say the death toll could be as high as 90, with 150 more people believed to be injured.
General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the Head of U.S. Central Command, tonight confirmed 12 US soldiers have died and at least 15 have been injured in attacks. They include 11 US marines and a Navy medic. It is the deadliest attack against US Forces in 10 years.
Speaking at a press conference in the US tonight, General McKenzie told reporters: ‘As you know, two suicide bombers, assessed to be ISIS fighters, detonated in the vicinity of the Abbey Gate at the airport and in the vicinity of the Baron Hotel.
‘The attack on the Abbey Gate was followed by an attack by ISIS gunmen, who opened fire on civilian and US forces.
‘At this time, we know that 12 US service members have been killed in the attack and another 15 have been injured. A number of Afghan civilians were also killed or injured.’
General McKenzie, under questioning from reporters, also said it was being ‘assumed’ by US officials that one of the suicide-bombers was being searched to go through the airport gates when he detonated his device.
In a stark warning, he also said the US believed Kabul could face more attacks in the near future, saying: ‘We believe it is their desire to continue these attacks and we expect those attacks to continue and we’re doing everything we can to be prepared for those attacks’.
UK defence officials say they do not believe any British troops or Government officials have been killed in the attacks, which Islamic State (IS) have tonight claimed responsibility for.
Officials had earlier said splinter group ISIS-K – a regional offshoot of IS – were behind the attacks. IS today made the claim via a Telegram post, in which they included a picture of one of the alleged suicide bombers.