Kabul Airport Live Updates: Biden Issues A Stern Warning To ISIS-K Attackers An Islamic State affiliate says it was behind the attacks that killed at least 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans. Here's what we know right now.

Live Updates: ISIS-K Behind Kabul Attack That Killed Dozens. Biden Vows Revenge

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1031244804/1031287447" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

One of the worst fears in the ongoing evacuation in Kabul has come to pass. For days, U.S. officials have warned of a threat of a large-scale attacks that might target the throngs trying to get into the Kabul airport. This morning, an explosion struck a gate at that airport, another at a nearby hotel. Details are still scarce, but we're joined by NPR's Quil Lawrence for the latest. Quil, what do we know?

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: Eyewitnesses told NPR about a large explosion and then gunfire at the Kabul airport. As you know, thousands of people have been gathered there for 10 days now. And we saw photos of Afghans running from the scene, carrying wounded people in wheelbarrows, taking them to emergency hospital in Kabul. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed by Twitter that three U.S. Marines have been wounded, maybe dozens more of other nationalities. He said it was a complex attack, meaning probably that there was a suicide bomber involved and gunmen involved, explaining the gunfire, perhaps. He said it happened at one of the southern gates, one of the - the Abbey Gate, one of the entrance points near the civilian side of the airport. And he confirmed, as you said, a second explosion near the Baron Hotel, which is a place that people had been gathering, trying to get out of the country.

FADEL: What else did the Pentagon press secretary say?

LAWRENCE: Well, he was, hours ago, debunking a rumor that the evacuation was going to be wrapping up within 36 hours. There have been a lot of rumors that this is the last plane, this is your last chance. We have no indication that things are going to end before August 31. But you know, as you and I were discussing, this could really affect the security conditions outside the airport for those throngs of people. So far, there had been no attacks, and people have been getting quite close to the Marines at the gates. In fact, that was one of the ways in this, I guess, generously described as chaotic, system for getting people out. You know, people have been trying to get right up to the Marines and show them their passports. Now who knows what sort of precautions they'll want to put in place to keep people from getting anywhere near those Marines?

FADEL: So this may hamper evacuation efforts that are already slow and difficult.

LAWRENCE: Yeah. I mean, as you and I have seen in Iraq and have seen in Afghanistan at times of most heightened security, to approach one of these gates, you'd have to sometimes stand from 50 feet away. You'd be told over a loudspeaker to, you know, lift up your shirt so they could see whether you had something strapped - a bomb strapped to you. And if you can imagine how slow things have been going already, what if everyone approaching this airport had to stand 50 feet from the checkpoint...

FADEL: Yeah.

LAWRENCE: ...And show that they're not carrying a bomb?

FADEL: You know, give us the latest on the evacuation efforts right now. How many out so far? How many left?

LAWRENCE: The White House had said that 13,400 people were evacuated from Afghanistan in their most recent 24-hour period, ending about 3 o'clock this morning. That brings the total to 95,000. I'd imagine in the last hours they've probably gone over 100,000 since August 14, when the city fell to the Taliban. It's a chaotic mix of American citizens, of people who served - Afghans who served with the U.S. military and were promised visas and vulnerable Afghans who've just been resourceful enough to make it to one of the airport gates. They said that there are probably about 1,500 American citizens left, 500 of whom are in contact with the embassy.

FADEL: NPR's Quil Lawrence, thank you for your reporting.

LAWRENCE: Thanks, Leila.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.