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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Kabul airport blasts Highlights: Pentagon says airport attack carried out by one suicide bomber; death toll rises to over 180

Kabul airport blasts Highlights: Meanwhile, Russia has called for rapid efforts to help form an inclusive interim government in Afghanistan after the deadly attack at Kabul airport, saying Islamic State was trying to capitalise on chaos in the country and endangering everyone.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 28, 2021 7:59:08 am
Taliban fighters stand guard outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, a day after deadly attacks outside the airport. (AP)

Kabul airport blasts LIVE updates:  The Pentagon said on Friday that a deadly attack at the gate to Kabul airport in Afghanistan yesterday was carried out by one suicide bomber, not two. “I can confirm for you that we do not believe that there was a second explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, that it was one suicide bomber,” Army Major General William Taylor was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Meanwhile, the reported toll of the bombing outside Kabul’s airport rose sharply on Friday, with Afghan health officials saying that as many as 170 people were killed and at least 200 were wounded, the New York Times reported. Health officials’ estimate of the number of bombing victims, which did not include the 13 US service members killed and 15 wounded, was supported by interviews with hospital officials.

In other news, Russia has called for rapid efforts to help form an inclusive interim government in Afghanistan after the deadly attack at Kabul airport, saying Islamic State was trying to capitalise on chaos in the country and endangering everyone.

Live Blog

Kabul airport blast Highlights: Twin explosions outside Kabul airport kill over 100; Biden vows revenge, says will hunt down the attackers; More attacks by ISIS-K expected. Follow all the latest news and live updates here:

04:45 (IST)28 Aug 2021
Bomber carried unusually large explosive pack

The suicide bomber who killed as many as 169 Afghans and 13 US service members at the Kabul airport carried about 25 pounds of explosives loaded with shrapnel a US official said Friday. The massive amount of explosives and spray of shrapnel created such a large blast that it killed US troops who were inside the airport gate as well as troops and Afghans outside said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss preliminary assessments of the bombing.

01:09 (IST)28 Aug 2021
Pulitzer Board grants special citation to Afghan journalists

The Pulitzer Prize Board announced a special citation Friday for people in Afghanistan who risked their safety to help produce news stories and images from their wartorn country.

From staff and freelance correspondents to interpreters to drivers to hosts courageous Afghan residents helped produce Pulitzerwinning and Pulitzerworthy images and stories that have contributed to a wider understanding of profoundly tragic and complicated circumstances the board said. The citation comes with a 100000 emergency relief grant intended to help men and women involved in journalism in Afghanistan either resettle or to continue their work safely.

00:44 (IST)28 Aug 2021
US presses on with evacuations despite fears of more attacks

The United States pressed on into the final days of the chaotic airlift from Afghanistan amid tighter security and warnings of more possible attacks Friday a day after a devastating suicide bombing at the Kabul airport killed well over 100 Afghans and 13 US service members.

The US said more bloodshed could come ahead of President Joe Bidens fastapproaching deadline Tuesday to end the evacuations and withdraw American forces. The next few days will be our most dangerous period to date White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

23:18 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Biden told another Kabul terror attack 'likely'

President Joe Biden's national security team has told the president that another terror attack is "likely" in Kabul, and that "maximum force protection" measures are being taken at the airport in the Afghan capital.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not go into detail on the assessment Biden received from his team one day after a suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. servicemembers and scores of Afghans outside the airport. 

22:45 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Afghanistan: Here's what happened today

Here's the latest roundup of all that happened today in Afghanistan: 

*According to The New York Times, the reported toll of the bombing outside Kabul’s airport rose sharply, with Afghan health officials saying that as many as 180 people were killed (including 13 US marines) and at least 200 were wounded. 

*British foreign minister Dominic Raab said that 2 British nationals and the child of a third British national were also killed in Thursday's attack.

*The Pentagon said that the attack at the gate near Kabul airport was carried out by one suicide bomber, not two.

*Russia has called for rapid efforts to help form an inclusive interim government in Afghanistan, saying ISIS was trying to capitalise on the chaos in the country and endangering everyone.

*India said a vast majority of its citizens who wished to return home from Afghanistan have been evacuated and it is carefully monitoring the situation in the neighbouring country.

*German Defense Minister said her country has ended its evacuation mission in Afghanistan.

Afghans walk through a security barrier as they enter Pakistan through a common border crossing point in Chaman, Pakistan, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. (AP)
22:18 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Two British nationals, child killed in Kabul attack

Two British nationals and the child of a third British national were killed in Thursday's attack at Kabul airport, British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Friday.

21:44 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Kabul death toll increases to 170: report

According to The New York Times, the reported toll of the bombing outside Kabul’s airport rose sharply on Friday, with Afghan health officials saying that as many as 170 people were killed and at least 200 were wounded.

Health officials’ estimate of the number of bombing victims, which did not include the 13 U.S. service members killed and 15 wounded, was supported by interviews with hospital officials.

20:46 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Video from Kabul airport

BBC News foreign producer Tony Brown shared footage of people boarding planes at Kabul. “Every single person here is fleeing for their lives and leaving their entire life behind. It’s quite hard to comprehend,” he said in a tweet.

20:44 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Pentagon says Kabul attack carried out by one suicide bomber    

The Pentagon said on Friday that a deadly attack at the gate to Kabul airport in Afghanistan yesterday was carried out by one suicide bomber, not two.

"I can confirm for you that we do not believe that there was a second explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, that it was one suicide bomber," Army Major General William Taylor was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The Pentagon logo is seen behind the podium in the briefing room at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, US. (Reuters)
20:35 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Russia says vital to help Afghans form inclusive government

Russia called on Friday for rapid efforts to help form an inclusive interim government in Afghanistan after a deadly attack at Kabul airport, saying Islamic State was trying to capitalise on chaos in the country and endangering everyone, news agency Reuters reported.

Russia said its intelligence services were working round the clock to prevent any spillover onto the territory of its allies in former Soviet Central Asia which the Kremlin sees as part of its southern defensive flank.

19:07 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Carefully monitoring developments in Afghanistan: India

India on Friday said a vast majority of its citizens who wished to return home from Afghanistan have been evacuated and it is carefully monitoring the situation in the neighbouring country.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India's focus has been to evacuate its citizens who are stranded in Afghanistan.

"We continue to monitor the situation very carefully. It is an evolving situation," he said at a media briefing.

Asked whether India will recognise a Taliban dispensation in Afghanistan, Bagchi said there is currently a lack of clarity or no clarity about any entity forming a government in Kabul. (PTI)

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi 
18:47 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Half a million more may flee Afghanistan: UNHCR

The UN refugee agency is gearing up for as many as half a million people or more to flee from Afghanistan in a “worst-case scenario” in the coming months.

According to Associated Press, UNHCR says the situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover last week “remains uncertain and may evolve rapidly,” with up to 515,000 new refugees fleeing.

The agency said that would add to the 2.2 million Afghans who already are registered as refugees abroad — nearly all of them in Pakistan and Iran.

Afghans walk through a security barrier as they enter Pakistan through a common border crossing point in Chaman, Pakistan, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. (AP)
17:59 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Explained: ISIS chapter in Afghanistan and the turf war with Taliban

In an editorial in its weekly paper al Nabha last Friday, the Islamic State, in its first comments on the victory of the Taliban, dismissed it as a “Mullah Bradley” project, in other words, a United States proxy. The editorial criticised the “new Taliban” for wearing a “guise of Islam” to undermine the IS in the Af-Pak region, and questioned if it would implement Sharia in Afghanistan. The editorial also said it was preparing for a new phase of jihad. 

Whether or not that was a reference to Afghanistan, with the double blast attack at Kabul airport on Thursday evening that killed over 100 and injured many more, the IS-Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Afghan chapter of the group, blamed by the US and other intelligence forces for the bombing, has announced that it is present in the “new Afghanistan” and intends to continue a deadly war with the Taliban. Read more here.

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17:33 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Some more Indians likely to be in Afghanistan: MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs Friday said that the vast majority of Indians who wished to return have been evacuated from Afghanistan. "Some more Indians likely to be in Afghanistan," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi was quoted as saying by PTI.

17:29 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Germany ends evacuation mission from Kabul

The German defense minister says her country has ended its evacuation mission in Afghanistan. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the last of the German military aircraft and troops arrived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Thursday evening.

She said that, in all, Germany evacuated 5,347 people from at least 45 nations, including more than 4,000 Afghans. However, according to Al-Jazeera, Germany says it believes that about 300 of its citizens are still in Afghanistan.

16:26 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Swedish Kabul evacuation mission over

Sweden has ended its evacuation mission in Kabul, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Friday. "All in all some 1,100 people have been evacuated by the Foreign Ministry. All locally employed embassy staff and their families have been evacuated," Linde was quoted as saying by Reuters.

16:06 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Crowd outside Kabul airport as large as ever

According to the Associated Press, as the call to prayer echoed through Kabul along with the roar of departing planes, the anxious crowd outside the airport was as large as ever. 

Dozens of Taliban members carrying heavy weapons patrolled one area about 500 meters (1,600 feet) from the airport to prevent anyone from venturing beyond.

Taliban fighters stand guard outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, a day after deadly attacks outside the airport. (AP)
15:40 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Explained: Who is Islamic State Khorasan?

What many had feared happened on Thursday: Scores of people were killed in several explosions at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport. The blast came after Western intelligence agencies warned citizens not to travel to the airport because of a credible terror threat.

The Afghan offshoot of the terror organization “Islamic State,” known as ISIS-Khorasan, IS-K or ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attacks. The group takes its name from the Khorasan Province, an area that once included wide swaths of Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia in the Middle Ages. Click here to know more about ISIS-K.

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15:30 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Watch: TRT World interviews Zabiullah Mujahid

TRT World sat down with Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid for an exclusive interview.

15:09 (IST)27 Aug 2021
Kabul attack: How international media covered the devastating explosions

Devastating scenes unfolded at the Kabul airport on Thursday after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed over 100 people deepening the chaos in the final days of frantic evacuation efforts ahead of the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. The attacks killed dozens of Afghan civilians and at least 13 US service members. Click here to know how the international media covered the Kabul attacks.

Taliban Afghanistan news Taliban members outside the closed United States embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Image/The New York Times)

Chaos persists at Kabul airport as Taliban discuss new government

As lethal mayhem persisted outside the Kabul airport, with thousands of terrified Afghans trying to flee, the Taliban have reached out to a former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and to Russia in an attempt to fulfil their pledge to form an “inclusive” government and defeat holdouts against their rule.

Little in the Taliban’s history suggests a readiness to compromise on their harsh Islamist principles or to share power, but the United States has warned the militant group that going it alone will result in continuous conflict and isolation. In this context, Karzai, who led the county between 2001 and 2014, appears to have emerged as a possible mediator.

What happens to India’s ‘plurilateralism’ after Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

In his recent book titled The Indian Way (HarperCollins, 2020), Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, wrote: “It is time for us to engage America, manage China, cultivate Europe, reassure Russia, bring Japan into play, draw neighbours in, extend the neighbourhood and expand traditional constituencies of support.”

This approach of international and regional relations fitted in his view of “plurilateralism”, which relied, in particular, on the will to partner with countries that were not partners themselves: “If India drove the revived Quad arrangement, it also took membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. A longstanding trilateral with Russia and China now coexists with one involving the US and Japan”. Jaishankar defined this strategy as “a parallel pursuit of multiple priorities, some of whom could be contradictory” and ridiculed those who did not understand that Indian initiatives that seemed unnatural were the hallmark of the new “Indian way”.

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