At least 12 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport Thursday.
WHAT IT MEANS
Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan just spilled American blood for the first time, prompting prominent Republicans to call for the president to resign or be impeached.
WHAT WE KNOW
The head of the United States Central Command, Kenneth McKenzie Jr., confirmed the suicide attack and the American death toll.
"Just a few weeks ago, we were bombing the Taliban in Afghanistan. We have considered the Taliban enemies. And now we’re giving them intel…" Fox News' Bret Baier reports. pic.twitter.com/dEh6dD39AO
— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) August 26, 2021
Anong the dead were 11 Marines and a Navy medic, Fox News reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
- McKenzie said at least 15 more Americans were wounded.
- The bombing, coming in the final days of the 20-year U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, was the second deadliest of the conflict and the first to kill Americans in 18 months.
Anonymous Afghan health authorities put the total confirmed casualties at at least 30-40 dead and 120 wounded, with estimates rising quickly, per The New York Times.
- The explosion struck in the middle of a crowd of Afghans trying to make one of the last evacuation flights out of the country before Aug. 31, the U.S. deadline for withdrawal.
- Gunfire was reported in the aftermath of the blasts.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings.
- But the U.S. warned Wednesday night of a “specific” and “credible” threat at the airport by the Islamic State’s Afghan chapter, known as ISIS-K, and Western governments urged people to leave the area.
- U.S. forces have covertly worked with the Taliban to fight ISIS-K, and the two Islamist group are sworn enemies.
The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, condemned Thursday’s attack and said that at least 13 civilians had been killed and 60 wounded.
The White House canceled a planned briefing on Afghanistan, and Biden not yet addressed the nation several hours after the attack.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said of the slain American service members, “terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others.”
- He suggested the rush to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the Kabul airport would continue, saying in a statement, “we will not be dissuaded from the task at hand.”
Meanwhile, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley joined a chorus of Republican politicians in demanding Biden’s ouster.
Should Biden step down or be removed for his handling of Afghanistan? Yes. But that would leave us with Kamala Harris which would be ten times worse. God help us. #ItDidntHaveToBeThisWay #GodBlessOurTroops #AfghanistanDisaster
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) August 26, 2021
Adam Korzeniewski, a former Trump administration official, articulated the mounting conservative furor in a tweet: “Biden’s lack of planning cost American Marines lives. Period,” he said.
- “Woke Pentagon/National Security clowns like Austin and [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark] Milley were more obsessed with hunting down Trump supporters than doing their duties.”