US strikes airport suicide bomber in car

3 months ago 27
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The US has revealed it carried out a strike targeted on Islamic State suicide bombers headed to the airport in a car packed with explosives.

    The United States has confirmed it carried out a drone strike on suspected ISIS-K suicide bombers that were heading to Kabul airport in a car packed with explosives.

    In a statement obtained by news.com.au, Capt. Bill Urban from the U.S. Central Command said U.S. military forces conducted a “self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport”.

    Capt. Urban said the U.S. Central Command is “confident we successfully hit the target” and suggested the car driven by the suspected terrorists was carrying large amounts of deadly material.

    “Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material,” he said.

    The car was in a residential area of Kabul when the strike hit, with officials adding the driver was intent on carrying out an attack at the airport.

    “We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time.

    “We remain vigilant for potential future threats”.

    Meanwhile, the Taliban’s Zabihullah Mujahid told journalists a bomber drove a vehicle “loaded with explosives”.

    It is believed the drone struck the vehicle filled with multiple suicide bombers in the car.

    The threats are believed to be eliminated.

    There were reportedly no civilian casualties, which could indicate it was a separate incident to another reported rocket attack in the city, which the city police chief says killed one child.

    US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned the US will continue to carry out strikes as the final phase of evacuations continue.

    “We will continue to take the kinds of over-the-horizon [remote] strikes like we did over the weekend against the Isis-K facilitators and plotters,” he told CBS.

    “And yes, we will consider other operations to go after these guys, to get them and to take them off the battlefield.”

    It comes just three days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 US troops and nearly 200 Afghans in a terror attack at the airport where desperate last evacauations are trying to take place.

    Final phase of evacuations

    A western security official has revealed US forces are in the “final phase” of leaving Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, as the US warned of a “specific, credible threat” near the airport.

    The official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters that just over 1000 civilians remain at the airport waiting to be evacuated.

    US president Joe Biden has remained firm on sticking to the deadline, August 31, where all US troops will withdraw from the country.

    “We want to ensure that every foreign civilian and those who are at risk are evacuated today. Forces will start flying out once this process is over,” said the official, who is stationed at the airport.

    Meanwhile a Taliban official told the publication they are “waiting for the final nod from the Americans to secure full control over Kabul airport as both sides aim for a swift handover.”

    The United States meanwhile have warned of a “specific, credible threat” near Kabul airport, prompting an urgent warning for American citizens to leave the area.

    The new threat comes just days after a deadly attack on crowds fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

    A series of urgent terror warnings have rattled evacuation efforts overseen by US forces, who have been forced into closer security co-operation with the Taliban to prevent a repeat of Thursday’s carnage at one of the facility’s main access gates.

    “Due to a specific, credible threat, all US citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport … should leave the airport area immediately,” the US Embassy in Kabul said in a security alert.

    In its alert, the embassy noted the threat to “the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior (gate), and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport.”

    New attack imminent, US warns

    It comes just hours after US President Joe Biden warned that his military commanders believed a fresh attack could come “in the next 24-36 hours,” calling the situation “extremely dangerous.”

    After a briefing from his national security team, Mr Biden said in a statement that a US drone strike targeting the Islamic State-Khorasan group, which claimed responsibility for Thursday’s carnage at the airport, was “not the last.”

    “The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” Mr Biden said.

    Scores of Afghan civilians were killed in the Kabul bombing Thursday, along with 13 US troops — several of them born around the time US military operations in Afghanistan began 20 years ago.

    The Pentagon said Saturday it had killed two “high profile” targets — logistics experts for the jihadist group — and wounded another in a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan in retaliation for the suicide bombing.

    No civilians were hurt in the attack, Major General Hank Taylor told a news conference in Washington.

    “The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking on the face of the Earth, that’s a good thing,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

    US troops have been scrambling in dangerous and chaotic conditions to complete a massive evacuation operation from the Kabul airport by an August 31 deadline.

    Mr Biden has pledged to stick to the agreed cut-off and had vowed to punish those responsible for the suicide blast. He said Saturday that the drone attack would not be the last.

    “We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay,” he said. “Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt.”

    US, Taliban forced into unthinkable cooperation

    The IS attack forced the US military and the Taliban into a form of cooperation that was unthinkable a fortnight ago in order to ensure security at the airport.

    On Saturday Taliban fighters escorted a steady stream of Afghans from buses to the main passenger terminal, handing them over to US troops for evacuation.

    The troops were seen throughout the civilian side of the airport grounds and annexe buildings, while US Marines peered at them from the passenger terminal roof.

    After a 20-year war, the foes were within open sight of each other, separated by just 30 metres.

    Also in view of the US troops were the Taliban’s “Badri” special forces in American Humvees gifted to the now-vanquished Afghan army.

    Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi tweeted that the group’s fighters had already moved into parts of the military side of the airport, but the Pentagon stressed that US forces retained control over the gates and airlift.

    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, however, said US troops had already started withdrawing – without saying how many were left.

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