Washington — The Pentagon confirmed Thursday morning that an explosion occurred outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where the U.S. military has been working to evacuate scores of American citizens and at-risk Afghans from the country ahead of President Biden’s August 31 deadline to complete the withdrawal of American forces from.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Twitter that casualties from the blast are “unclear at this time,” and the Defense Department “will provide additional details when we can.”
A White House official told CBS News that Mr. Biden has been briefed on the explosion.
As the U.S. rushes to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans who helped American troops during the 20-year war in Afghanistan, as well as those at risk from the Taliban, out of Kabul, Mr. Biden has warned of growing risk to American and allied forces on the ground with each day that passes.
The U.S. and Britainnot to go to Kabul’s airport because of a terror threat outside the facility’s gates. On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Embassy in the capital alerted U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and said those at three different gates “should leave immediately.”
Mr. Biden spoke earlier this week of an ongoing threat posed by the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS Khorasan, or ISIS-K.
As of Thursday morning, the U.S. has evacuated 95,700 people out of Kabul since August 14, the White House said. Roughly 13,400 were flown out of the country on U.S. military and coalition flights during a 24-hour span beginning early Wednesday morning.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that 4,500 U.S. citizens and their immediate families have been shuttled out of Afghanistan in the last 10 days, and the State Department believes as many as 1,500 Americans are still in the country.