Two explosions have killed at least 40 people, including three U.S. soldiers, and wounded 120 outside Kabul’s airport.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said one blast occurred near the airport’s Abbey Gate and the other close to the nearby Baron Hotel.
“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of U.S. & civilian casualties,” Kirby said on Twitter. “We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”
Tens of thousands of people were waiting for hours outside the Abbey Gate despite warnings from Western officials not to come to the area around Hamid Karzai International due to threat of attack from ISIS.
Russian officials said two suicide bombers and gunmen had targeted crowds massing near the Kabul airport.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said: “The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul Airport which took place in an area where U.S. forces are responsible for security. The IE is paying close attention to the security and protection of its people and evildoers will be stopped.”
The blast marks the first such attack in the country since the Taliban took control of Kabul 10 days ago. However, the U.S. still controls Kabul airport where occupying forces are evacuating their personnel and allies ahead of an August 31 deadline to leave the country.
Several countries urged people to avoid the airport earlier in the day, with one saying there was a threat of a bombing.
British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC early on Thursday that there was ”very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack” at the airport, possibly within “hours.”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said his country had received information from the U.S. and other countries about the “threat of suicide attacks on the mass of people.”
The acting U.S. ambassador to Kabul, Ross Wilson, said the security threat at the Kabul airport overnight was “clearly regarded as credible, as imminent, as compelling.”