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At least 95 Afghans killed in bombings outside Kabul airport

At least 95 Afghans killed in bombings outside Kabul airport

Afghan and US officials had earlier said the bombings killed at least 60 Afghans and 13 US troops, in the deadliest day for US forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.

At least 95 Afghans were killed in Thursday’s suicide bombings outside Kabul’s international airport, officials said.

Afghan and US officials had earlier said the bombings killed at least 60 Afghans and 13 US troops, in the deadliest day for US forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.

The US government has said further attempted attacks are expected ahead of the Tuesday deadline for foreign troops to leave, ending America’s longest war.

Kabul residents said several flights took off on Friday morning, while the anxious crowd outside the airport was as large as ever.

In one location, dozens of Taliban members with heavy weapons about 500 metres from the airport were preventing anyone from venturing forward.

Earlier, in an emotional speech in Washington DC, US president Joe Biden blamed the incident on the affiliate of the so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan (Isis-K), a far more radical force than the Taliban militants who seized power less than two weeks ago.

Mr Biden said: “We will rescue the Americans; we will get our Afghan allies out, and our mission will go on.”

But despite intense pressure to extend Tuesday’s deadline, he has cited the threat of terrorist attacks as a reason to keep to his plan.

The Taliban, back in control of Afghanistan two decades after they were ousted in a US-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks, insists on the deadline.

In February 2020, the Trump administration struck an agreement with the Taliban that called for it to halt attacks on Americans in exchange for the removal of all US troops and contractors by May 2021.

Mr Biden announced in April he would have them out by September.

While the US on Thursday said more than 100,000 people have been safely evacuated from Kabul, as many as 1,000 Americans and tens of thousands more Afghans are struggling to leave in one of history’s largest airlifts.

General Frank McKenzie, the US Central Command chief overseeing the evacuation, said about 5,000 people are awaiting flights on the airfield.

The scenes at the airport, with people standing knee-deep in sewage and families thrusting documents and even young children towards US troops behind razor wire, have horrified many around the world as efforts continue to help people escape.

But those chances are fading fast for many. Some US allies have said they are ending evacuation efforts, in part to give the US time to wrap up its evacuation work before getting 5,000 of its troops out by Tuesday.

The UK said its evacuations from Afghanistan will end within hours, and the main British processing centre for eligible Afghans has been closed.

The Spanish government said it has ended its evacuation operation.

A US military aircraft has flown around 400 people evacuated from Afghanistan to the navy base of Rota, in southern Spain – the first group of up to 4,000 people expected there.

The flight landed at 9.40am on Friday (8.40am BST), a statement from the US embassy in Spain said. U.. officials, American and Spanish soldiers, Red Cross workers and base volunteers are in charge of processing the arrivals.

The Rota navy base and the nearby air force base of Moron, both hosting a significant US military presence, have been overhauled during the past few days to welcome the evacuees.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has asked Turkey to operate Kabul airport after the Americans leave, but a decision would be made “after the administration (in Afghanistan) is clear”, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Untold thousands of Afghans, especially ones who had worked with the US and other Western countries, are now in hiding from the Taliban, fearing retaliation despite the group’s offer of full amnesty.

The militant group has claimed it has become more moderate since its harsh rule from 1996 to 2001, when it largely confined women to their homes, banned television and music and held public executions.

But Afghans in Kabul and elsewhere have reported that some Taliban members are barring girls from attending school and going door-to-door in search of people who had worked with western forces.

No-one knows how effective the Taliban will be at combating the Sunni extremists of IS, who have links to the group’s more well-known affiliate in Syria and Iraq and have carried out a series of brutal attacks in Afghanistan, mainly targeting its Shia Muslim minority.

Meanwhile, China said it condemned the attacks on Kabul airport and said it was “ready to work with the international community to address the threat of terrorism and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a source of terrorism again”.

The remarks made by foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday were Beijing’s first comments about the suicide bombings.

Content provided by Radio NewsHub. Originally published on 2021-08-27 11:20:00.

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