Washington — A “large explosion” occurred outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul where the U.S. military has been working to evacuate American citizens and at-risk Afghans ahead of President Biden’s August 31 deadline to complete the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, the State Department said Thursday.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said there had been an “unknown number of casualties” from the blast outside the Abbey Gate, one of four entrances to the airport. Three sources told CBS News a suicide bomber was responsible for the explosion.
A White House official told CBS News that Mr. Biden has been briefed on the explosion.
As the U.S. rushes to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans who helped American troops during the 20-year war in Afghanistan, as well as those at risk from the Taliban, Mr. Biden has warned of growing risk to American and allied forces on the ground with each day that passes.
The U.S. and Britain had warned citizens not to go to Kabul’s airport because of a terror threat outside the facility’s gates. On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Embassy in the capital alerted U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and said those at three different gates “should leave immediately.”
Mr. Biden spoke earlier this week of an ongoing threat posed by the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS Khorasan, or ISIS-K.