Horror as ISIS target Kabul airport in deadly double bombing

Cut down in a bloodbath as they queued for salvation: How ISIS targeted desperate men, women and children waiting in sewage-filled ditch at Kabul airport for a chance to flee to the west

  • A huge explosion rocked the Abbey Gate of Kabul airport while another hit the nearby Barons Hotel
  • Senior officials told BBC the death toll at airport could be as high as 60, with 120 more believed to be injured
  • The Associated Press says 12 US servicemen – 11 Marines and one Navy medic – have been killed in attacks
  • General Kenneth F. McKenzie confirms 12 US soldiers have died and at least 15 have been injured in bombings
  • He confirmed the attacks were carried out by two ISIS suicide bombers and ISIS gunmen outside the airport
  • Several explosions have been reported, though Taliban say a number were US troops destroying ammunition
  • The attack could spell the end of the evacuations process with Germany already pulling out of Afghanistan
  • Norway has suspended its rescue operations, however Boris Johnson said UK would continue evacuation 

It was already a heart-breaking scene of utter desperation. For days, a sewage canal at the airport became a holding pen for Afghans who, knee-deep in effluent, waved passports and signs pleading for Western help in boarding evacuation flights out of Kabul.

But last night it became a scene of carnage, with dead bodies piled on top of one another and filthy sewage water running red with blood.

On the canal bank leading to Hamid Karzai International Airport and potential escape from the country lay dozens more lifeless, bloodied figures.

Amid the horror, wheelbarrows were used to cart off the wounded – some missing limbs, others unconscious.

Many survivors dropped vital documentation – their only lifeline to escape a country descending into civil war – in the stampede to flee that followed.

This was the aftermath of bomb attacks at Kabul’s airport, which left at least 60 dead, including 12 US troops, and more than 100 seriously injured.

Their only crime? To long for a better life, away from a Taliban regime that destroyed the rights and lives of so many during its earlier iron-fisted rule.

Last night, Islamic State claimed responsibility, alleging one suicide bomber got ‘within five metres’ of US troops before detonating a device.

US General Kenneth McKenzie said troops may have been searching the bomber when his device went off. Most chillingly, however, this was a tragedy foretold. 

Injured Afghans flee Kabul airport on Thursday night after two explosions and gunfire ripped through crowds 

As many as 12 US serviceman are thought to have died in two bomb attacks outside Kabul airport, while reports suggest a third explosion has been heard in the capital tonight. Pictured: Horrifying images (which have been muzzed) show the victims of one of the blasts outside Kabul airport today

A person who was hit by the suicide bomb at Kabul airport is carried away from the blast in a wheelbarrow

IT was already a heart-breaking scene of utter desperation. For days, a sewage canal at the airport became a holding pen for Afghans who, knee-deep in effluent, waved passports and signs pleading for Western help in boarding evacuation flights out of Kabul


In the hours leading up to the suicide bombings, intelligence agencies from numerous countries had identified the imminent risk of a terror attack.

State agencies had intercepted communications showing regional anti-Taliban IS fighters, under the banner ‘Isis-K’, were planning to hit the airport and kill US troops, civilians, and anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the area.

Moments before the attack, a huge crowd of Afghan civilians and US soldiers are seen massing near the Abbey Gate where the second explosion struck

US officials urged anyone attempting to board evacuation flights to leave immediately, telling those at the ‘Abbey Gate, east gate, or north gate’ to find safety.

Some did heed the advice, but thousands of Afghans – knowing that their chances of getting out were diminishing in these final days of the evacuation mission – remained at the airport’s Abbey Gate yesterday.

Earlier, countries including Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Hungary all announced they were ending their evacuation programmes.

But it was the words of Armed Forces minister James Heappey, as he conducted broadcast interviews yesterday, that were so prescient.

After the Foreign Office told anyone in the vicinity of the airport to leave, Mr Heappey told LBC’s Nick Ferrari there was a ‘real lethality’ to the terror plans uncovered.

Asked if an attack could happen in days, he replied: ‘Hours.’

Such was the risk, he added, that he had been briefed that a terror attack was feared to take place while he was on air. Around six and a half hours later two explosions killed, maimed and injured scores. They were sitting ducks.


In the days since Kabul was seized by the Taliban in a ruthless takeover, The Baron Hotel, close to the airport, had become a makeshift British embassy, where troops and officials process the documents of those hoping to come to the UK.

The nearby Abbey Gate was manned by British and US troops, although Taliban militia also had a presence, leading to regular bouts of warning gunfire as crowds surged. The risks were high.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said: ‘Every day on the ground is another day we know that Isis-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians.’ At around 5.30pm local time, the nightmare began to unfold.

Amid the forbidding atmosphere, an Italian military plane with 100 Afghans on board was said to have been targeted with gunfire.

It was not damaged, and later reports claimed the shots came from Taliban militia simply firing warning shots into the air.

A suicide bomb has caused a huge explosion outside Kabul airport with ‘unknown casualties’ just hours after warnings of an ‘imminent’ and ‘lethal’ ISIS terrorist attack

Injured Afghans are removed from Kabul airport in the Baron Hotel, next to the airport in Kabul, after a suicide bomb attack on Thursday evening 

Afghan people who want to leave the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021

That was a false alarm. But within the hour, the dam burst.

While the details remained confused last night, a blast rang out as a suicide bomb was detonated in or near the sewage canal by the Abbey Gate.

Reports say it was followed another around 200 yards away. There was also a firefight involving alleged attackers, defending troops and Taliban militia. The Abbey Gate blast is feared to have inflicted the most casualties. Both areas were manned by American and UK troops.

It was described by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby as a ‘complex attack’.

One man who saw the explosion said up to 500 people had been caught up in the terror. He helped take some to hospital. ‘I saw at least 400 or 500 people there,’ he added.

‘The explosion was really powerful. Half were hurled into the water, others to the ground outside. We carried them on stretchers here and I am completely bloodied.’

Milad, who was also at the scene, said: ‘Bodies, flesh and people were thrown into a canal.’

The blast was outside The Baron Hotel, at the Abbey Gate of Kabul airport. Westerners were staying in the hotel before their evacuation flights

Images from the scene show scores of bloodied people being carried away from the bombsite with witnesses saying they saw ‘so many hurt’

The large explosion at Kabul explosion filled the air with smoke (left), while those injured in the suicide bomb attack were carried away from the scene 

Another witness added: ‘When people heard the explosion there was total panic. The Taliban then started firing in the air to disperse the crowd at the gate. I saw a man rushing with an injured baby in his hands.’

Footage showed maimed bodies stretched across the street.

Mohammad Tanai, who has lived in Luton since 2009, was at the airport looking for an evacuation flight before he fled just 15 minutes prior to the attack after reading about the threat.

He told the Mail: ‘We were in traffic. I heard a terrible sound. We saw people running towards us, away from the airport. 

‘They were crying. I feel very lucky. I had just been there. I don’t want to return to the airport now as this could happen again.’


Defence sources widely suspect Isis-K – an offshoot of the Islamic State terror group.

The ‘K’ refers to the fact that the splinter cell is mostly based in the Khorasan province of eastern Afghanistan.

Isis-K, which wants to create an Afghan caliphate, believes the Taliban is not strict enough.

Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri of ISIS-K was allegedly the suicide bomber responsible for one of the blasts, according to a twitter post

Its zealots have already carried out around 100 attacks on civilian targets.

In May, it killed at least 68 Afghans and injured another 165 when they detonated three car bombs outside a school for girls in Kabul. Most of the victims were young pupils.

Yesterday, a Taliban spokesman condemned the airport attacks, but pointed out that ‘they took place in an area where US forces are responsible for security’.


Condemning the ‘barbaric’ mass killing claimed by Isis-K, Boris Johnson said: ‘They’re despicable, but I’m afraid they’re something we’ve had to prepare for.’

The Prime Minister insisted the atrocity would not ‘interrupt our progress, we’re going to get on with this evacuation’.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: ‘The UK and US remain resolute… to get as many people out as possible.

‘It is testament to the remarkable courage of our personnel that they continue to do so while under fire.’

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