A suicide bomb has caused a huge explosion outside Kabul airport with US soldiers and Afghan civilians believed to be among the casualties, just hours after warnings of an ‘imminent’ and ‘lethal’ ISIS terror attack.
President Joe Biden has been briefed on the blast which ripped through a crowd of Afghans gathered at the Abbey gate of the Hamid Karzai airport where there were also reports of gunfire amid the mass panic.
Images from the scene show scores of bloodied people being carried away from the bombsite with reports of multiple casualties.
Witnesses told Sky News the suicide bomber had detonated a device in a sewage canal-way packed with people and that there were ‘definitely’ civilian casualties.
He said the passage was overlooked by US soldiers and he had been told that there were casualties among the American troops. He added: ‘This could be the end of the airlift’
Meanwhile an Afghan man queueing to enter the airport said the explosion hit the middle of a crowd of thousands, and he saw many injured and maimed people and was told of multiple fatalities.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said: ‘We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can.’
A source from Italy’s Defence Ministry had said shots were fired at the Italian C-130 plane minutes after take-off but it was not damaged.
The US, Britain and Australia had already told their citizens to flee the airport over the terror threat with Western forces still stationed at the transport hub, with a multiple car-bomb attack feared by officials.
The fears are heaping extra pressure on the operation to evacuate stranded foreigners, with Tuesday’s deadline for foreign troops to leave fast approaching.
Meanwhile Afghans who had been told to stay away from Kabul airport are instead flocking to Pakistan and Iran in a bid to escape after the UK told them to head to the border, while many countries have announced they are ending their airlift operations from today.