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Biden Pledges To Strike Back After Attack Kills 13 U.S. Service Members In Kabul

President Biden delivers remarks Thursday on the terror attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan that killed U.S. service members and Afghan civilians.
Jim Watson
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden delivers remarks Thursday on the terror attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan that killed U.S. service members and Afghan civilians.

President Biden is expected to speak Thursday at 5 p.m. ET after twin explosions outside the airport in Kabul left 12 U.S. troops dead.

The blasts, one outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport and the second at the nearby Baron Hotel, wounded more than 150 people.

At a Pentagon press conference, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said 15 U.S. troops are among the injured. An Afghan official told the Associated Press at least 60 Afghans were killed and another 143 were wounded in the attack outside Kabul airport.

He said the attacks were carried out by two suicide bombings, followed by gunfire. A U.S. official told The Associated Press the attack is "definitely believed" to have been carried out by the Islamic State group. While McKenzie didn't blame ISIS-K, he did say "the threat from ISIS-K is very real."

McKenzie added the evacuation has now taken 104,000 people out of Afghanistan, including nearly 5,000 Americans. He estimates about 1,000 Americans remain. Aug. 31 — this coming Tuesday — is the administration's planned withdrawal deadline.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed Thursday afternoon "a number of U.S. service members" were killed in the attacks.

"A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack," Kirby said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and injured."

This marks the first U.S. casualty in Afghanistan since February 2020, before the U.S. and the Taliban signed a deal in which the Taliban agreed to not attack American troops if the U.S. withdrew its forces.

The Taliban have condemned the attack outside the airport, claiming the area of the explosion is controlled by the U.S.

Biden has faced criticism from members of both political parties for the way in which his administration withdrew U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

But Biden has defended his administration's actions.

"The idea that somehow, there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens," Biden told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.

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