New Delhi: At least 60 civilians and 12 US service members were killed as Islamic State claimed responsibility for the dastardly Kabul attacks on Thursday, August 26. It turned out to be the deadliest day for US forces in a decade, subjecting President Joe Biden to face sharper criticism.
The evacuation of western forces and others from Afghanistan plunged into deeper crisis as multiple explosions and at least one attack by a gunman in Kabul near the airport and other locations killed scores throwing the entire world into a panic.
In an address to the nation, Biden described the deceased US service personnel as “heroes” and asserted: “We will not forgive, we will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. We will not be deterred by the terrorists.”
India strongly condemned the bomb blasts in Kabul.
"We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this terrorist attack. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the injured," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
"Today’s attacks reinforce the need for the world to stand unitedly against terrorism and all those who provide sanctuaries to terrorists," India said in a veiled reference to Pakistan.
Vice President of the 'ousted' Afghanistan government, Amrullah Saleh, has said “The Taliban were not having sanctuaries there. The whole of Pakistan was in the service of the Taliban,”
US officials have confirmed on Thursday, 12 US service members were killed and 15 injured. Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the airport attacks on the group’s Telegram account.
Two suicide bombers and a gunman struck one of the main entrances to Kabul’s international airport just hours after western intelligence agencies warned of an imminent threat to the ongoing, urgent evacuation operation. At least 60 Afghans were also killed and 143 wounded in the airport attack. Most of the victims had been waiting to get into the airport and on an evacuation flight and were crowded together in and around a sewage canal adjacent to the airport.
Joe Biden said he had asked commanders to strike back, but the head of US Central Command, Gen Kenneth McKenzie, spoke about 'cooperation' from the Taliban. He said 'cooperation with the Taliban' had probably thwarted earlier attacks and that the cooperation would continue.
Gen Kenneth McKenzie said the US would also "continue to execute the mission" to evacuate people despite the attack. The US has set a deadline of August 31 for the withdrawal of its troops. President Biden has rejected calls from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other allies for an extension.
On Thursday, Johnson said the operation to evacuate people would continue "according to the timetable we have got."
Meanwhile, Pakistan's national security adviser, Moeed Yusuf, has said that the western countries and the US have embarrassed themselves by not listening to Pakistan about the lack of local support of the Ghani administration earlier and now needs to cooperate with the Taliban.
It is worth mentioning that Afghanistan was a haven for terrorist groups when the Taliban were in power in the 1990s till October 2001 when they were ousted.
The Taliban have “never broken” their alliance with al-Qaeda over the last two decades despite military pressure and two years of negotiations in Qatar, Richard Fontaine, CEO of the Center for a New American Security, has said, according to CNBC.