KABUL, Afghanistan (NewsNation Now) — An explosion went off Thursday outside the Kabul airport, where thousands of people have gathered to try to flee the country on Western airlift since the Taliban seized power earlier this month.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the attack occurred outside the Abbey Gate in the Kabul airport and there was no immediate word on the number of casualties in the blast Thursday.
A witness, Adam Khan, told the Associated Press multiple people were either killed or wounded, but did not have a confirmed injury or death count. He added some people appeared to be missing body parts. He was about 30 yards from Thursday’s blast.
The State Department also confirmed the blast occurred and said there were reports of gunfire. They warned U.S. citizens, “should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates. Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.”
President Joe Biden was also briefed on the explosion and is expected to meet with his national security team Thursday morning to discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
Russian officials reported the attack was a suicide bomb outside Kabul’s airport Thursday which killed at least 2 people and wounded 15. The Pentagon has not confirmed the nature of the attack or number injured.
The Pentagon is expected to brief the press at 10:30 a.m ET about the latest on evacuation efforts and the reported blast outside the airport.
Thousands of Afghans have been gathered at the airport for days trying to flee the country since the Taliban takeover earlier this month. Western nations had warned of a possible attack.
Several countries urged people to avoid the airport, where an official said there was a threat of a suicide bombing. But just days — or even hours for some nations — before the evacuation effort ends, few appeared to heed the call.
Over the last week, the airport has been the scene of some of the most searing images of the chaotic end of America’s longest war and the Taliban’s takeover, as flight after flight took off carrying those who fear a return to the militants’ brutal rule.
NewsNationNow.com has spoken with both refugees and advocates desperate to rescue as many people as possible from the country. They have described dangerous conditions on the ground as the Taliban tries to stop people leaving Afghanistan.
Army veteran Chris McClanahan decried the Biden administration’s troop withdrawal strategy as he explained the struggle his former interpreter, Ramallah, is facing attempting to leave.
“Unless they tell me something terrible has happened. I’m going to keep doing what I can do. But it’s a shame that I have to do this. Our administration should be doing this,” said McClanahan.