Editor's note: Details in this report may change as updated information is released.
Two coordinated explosions carried out by suicide bombers near the Kabul airport Thursday killed over 60 people, including U.S. soldiers, and wounded scores of others, reinforcing concerns about the safety of Americans in the country following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan.
The attacks came after the U.S. State Department warned Americans to avoid going near the Hamid Karzai International Airport following reports of an imminent attack by the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) on Afghans and Americans attempting to flee the country.
A suicide bomber carried out the first explosion near Abbey Gate, which resulted in numerous Afghan and American casualties. The second was a car bomb near Baron Hotel, which is adjacent to the Abbey Gate and is where British troops process Afghans before they depart on evacuation flights.
Baron Hotel is also where 169 U.S. citizens were rescued last week after they were unable to make it past the crowds and Taliban checkpoints.
According to officials, 11 Marines and one Navy Corpsman were killed in the first suicide bombing and 15 other soldiers were wounded.
Initially, it was believed that four Marines had been killed and three others were wounded after the U.S. Ambassador to Kabul told staff about the death toll from the suicide bombings, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby first acknowledged the suicide bombing near Abbey Gate in a tweet sent at 9:44 a.m. ET Thursday: “We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul Airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can.”
In a subsequent tweet, sent nearly an hour later, Kirby confirmed that “the explosion near the Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport has resulted in an unknown number of casualties.”
“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,” he added. “We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”
Republicans quickly pointed the blame for the terror attacks at President Joe Biden. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., the chair of the House Republican Conference, alleged that “Joe Biden has blood on his hands.”
“The buck stops with the President of the United States. This horrific national security and humanitarian disaster is solely the result of Joe Biden’s weak and incompetent leadership. He is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief,” she wrote in a scathing post on Twitter.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, called on Biden to “fix the mess you created.” Maintaining that “we are still at war,” he added: “You didn’t end the war, you just gave the enemy new advantage. Go on offense, establish superiority, and don’t leave until all our citizens and allies are safe.”
The explosions in Afghanistan come less than a week before the Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from the South Asian country. Even before the explosions, Republicans had criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the Afghanistan exit.
On Wednesday, after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at a press conference that no more than 1,500 Americans remain in Afghanistan, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., accused the State Department of misleading the public.
“Just two hours before Tony Blinken told America that there were 1,500 of their fellow citizens stranded in Afghanistan, one of his aides briefed congressional staff and said there were 4,100,” Cotton told Fox News’ Bret Baier on “Special Report” Wednesday.
“Something tells me they didn’t get 2,600 American citizens out in the span of two hours today, so the State Department still, nearly two weeks on, cannot answer the simple question of how many Americans we have stranded in Afghanistan.”
Earlier Wednesday, multiple news outlets, including National Review, reported on the 4,100 figure that the administration provided to Congress earlier in the day. They later issued a retraction when the State Department alleged that the official who shared that number with Congress “misspoke.”
Blinken explained at the press conference that “the numbers are difficult to pin down in absolute precision at any given moment” because U.S. citizens are not required to register at embassies when visiting foreign countries, making the government unsure of exactly how many people are in the country at any given time.
Cotton also pushed back on Blinken’s vow that the U.S. will “continue to provide consular support and facilitate departures for those who wish to leave after Aug. 31.” According to Cotton, “In a normal country with a normal government, say an American visiting Great Britain, if you lost your passport, you’d go to the embassy and consular services would help you get your passport or at least get temporary documents to leave the country. We’re not going to have an embassy in Afghanistan.”
The planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan marks the end of the war in Afghanistan, which spanned nearly two decades. In an appearance on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s “The National Desk” Monday, Adam Andrzejewski, the CEO of the nonprofit transparency organization OpentheBooks.com, noted that the war effort has cost American taxpayers $83 billion.
Andrzejewski elaborated on how after the U.S. began to exit from Afghanistan, much of its military equipment has fallen into the hands of the Taliban, which has rapidly gained control of the country. He reported that the Taliban “now control 75,000 military vehicles, this is about 50,000 tactical vehicles, 20,000 Humvees, each Humvee on average costs about [$100,000] a piece. They control about 1,000 mine-resistant vehicles and even about 150 armored personnel carriers.”
“There’s about 208 airplanes and helicopters; a lot of these aircraft are very sophisticated. Just 20 of the aircraft are the A29s and that’s the super attack planes. These planes, again very sophisticated, latest in technology, each one of them costs up to $21.3 million. Then you got the helicopters, like the black hawk helicopter, and each one of those costs up to $21 million."
Andrzejewski warned that due to the Taliban gaining control of U.S. military equipment, a “terrorist gun show that never ends” will likely break out. He detailed how additional U.S. military equipment remains unaccounted for, including “about 350,000 M4s and M16 rifles,” 60,000 machine guns, 25,000 grenade launchers and 2500 modern cannons.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org