60 die in Kabul explosions

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Over 100 critically injured; casualties include children; one blast occurred near the airport’s Abbey Gate and the other close to the nearby Baron Hotel

NEWS DESK/DNA

KABUL: Explosions outside Kabul airport on Thursday killed at least 60people, including children, and wounded many Taliban guards, a Taliban official said. The Turkish Defence Ministry said there were two explosions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said a second explosion went off outside the airport in the Afghan capital, adding that at least 60 were killed and 15 injured.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also said one blast occurred near the airport’s Abbey Gate and the other close to the nearby Baron Hotel. Two US officials said at least one of the explosions appeared to be from a suicide bombing.

US officials say one of the explosions appears to be a suicide bomb.

A United States official said US service members were among the wounded, adding he was citing an initial report and cautioning that it could change. He said there were casualties but did not know how many or of what nationality.

Kabul’s Emergency Hospital said in a tweet that it has received more than 30 patients so far while six others were already dead on arrival.

Thousands of people have been gathering outside the airport in recent days. Western troops are racing to evacuate foreigners and Afghans who helped Western countries during the 20-year war against the Taliban, and to get out themselves by an Aug 31 deadline.

“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties,” Kirby said on Twitter. “We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”

A US official told Reuters as many as three US service members were among those hurt, and that US casualty numbers were expected to increase, according to initial information. At least one of the US personnel was seriously hurt, an official said.

The US Embassy in Kabul described “a large explosion” and said there had been reports of gunfire. US and allied officials have said they had intelligence that suicide bombers were threatening to attack the airport.

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the explosion, according to a White House official. Biden was in a meeting with security officials about the situation in Afghanistan when the explosion was first reported, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Britain’s defence ministry said it was working urgently to establish what had happened at Kabul airport following reports of an explosion. “We are working urgently to establish what has happened in Kabul and its impact on the ongoing evacuation effort,” the defence ministry said on Twitter.