President Joe Biden warned that the situation in Kabul, Afghanistan, remains “extremely dangerous” amid the threat of terrorism, adding that top military commanders informed him Saturday morning that a second attack there is “highly likely in the next 24-36 hours.”
Biden said he directed field commanders to “take every possible measure to prioritize force protection” in the event of a second attack following Thursday’s explosion that killed 13 U.S. service members and injured another 18.
“They assured me that they did and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel,” he said in a statement.
Biden’s warning was given hours after Pentagon spokesman John Kirby cautioned that the threat of terrorism remains “active” and “dynamic.”
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed roughly 170 people Thursday outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at first confirmed reports of a second explosion at the Baron Hotel near the airport’s Abbey Gate, but officials then walked back that statement on Friday, saying only one explosion happened at the gate at approximately 5 p.m. local time Thursday.
The United States responded to the attack by initiating an airstrike against ISIS-K targets in Afghanistan , which the Pentagon first announced late Friday. The strike killed two and wounded one, officials said Saturday, adding that the individuals would not be named.
Biden acknowledged the airstrike in his Saturday statement and said he stayed true to his word, having promised on Thursday to hunt down the attack’s perpetrators.
“I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have,” the president said. “This strike was not the last.”
Kirby also praised the mission as a success but said officials don’t believe it “gets us into the clear.”
“We aren’t thinking for a minute that what happened yesterday gets us into clear … but do we believe that we hit valid targets, bad guys who can do bad things and can plan bad missions,” the Pentagon spokesman said Saturday.
On Saturday, the Pentagon identified the 13 service members who were killed in the airport attack. Eleven Marines, along with a Navy hospitalman and an Army Special Forces staff sergeant, died from the suicide blast.
“The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others,” Biden said Saturday. “Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far.”
Approximately 117,500 people have been relocated out of Afghanistan since the end of July, according to the Pentagon. Some 6,800 people were evacuated from Kabul between 3 a.m. EDT on Friday and the same time the next day.
As of Saturday, the number of U.S. citizens who have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14 stands at 5,400, while about 350 more are trying to leave the country, a State Department spokesperson said.
Source: Washington Examiner : Second attack in Kabul ‘highly likely’ within 24 to 36 hours, Biden says
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