US and allies warn of further terrorist attacks as the deadline for withdrawing from Afghanistan draws nearer

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Afghans trying to leave the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021.

Haroon Sabawoon | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The US and its allies have warned that further terrorist attacks are likely in Kabul as the deadline for military withdrawal from Afghanistan draws nearer.

Two suicide bombers struck on Thursday near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where thousands of people are still hoping to be evacuated after the Taliban came to power.

The US Central Command confirmed on Thursday evening that 13 US soldiers were killed and 18 wounded. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Friday that between 60 and 80 Afghans were also killed in the explosions.

ISIS-K, an Afghan-based branch of the terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

President Joe Biden said earlier this week that the group posed a growing threat to the airport, adding that it was because of this that he was “so determined to limit the duration of the mission”.

U.S. Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, Jr. said in a Pentagon briefing Thursday that ISIS will likely attempt to continue the attacks before the evacuations are complete.

On Friday, Wallace said the threat of further attacks in the area increases as the deadline for Western troops to leave the country draws nearer.

“The threat will obviously increase the closer we get to our exit,” he told Sky News. “The narrative will always be that certain groups like IS want to claim when they leave the US that they have driven the US or the UK.”

Wallace also shot at the Biden administration, saying that the West “seems to think that it is fixing problems; it is not, it is managing them”. He added that nation-building support should be carried out “in the long run as an international force”.

Evacuation ends

At around 4:30 a.m. on Friday, the UK approved the closure of its processing center at the Baron’s Hotel in Kabul and evacuated its officers. Wallace told BBC News that the last 1,000 eligible people at the airfield would be processed and flown out on Friday.

However, he admitted that not everyone can get out and told LBC radio that up to 150 UK nationals may not have made it yet as evacuation efforts are in their final hours.

Australia has suspended all evacuation flights from Afghanistan following the bombings, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday, claiming it is no longer safe to continue evacuation.