Kabul airport blast kills at least 13

KABUL: An explosion outside Kabul airport on Thursday killed at least 13 people, including children, and wounded many Taliban guards, a Taliban official told Reuters.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said a second explosion went off outside the airport in the Afghan capital, adding that at least 13 were killed and 15 injured.

A United States official said US service members were among the wounded, adding he was citing an initial report and cautioning that it could change. He said there were casualties but did not know how many or of what nationality.

Kabul's Emergency Hospital said in a tweet that it has received more than 30 patients so far while six others were already dead on arrival.

Thousands of people have been gathering outside the airport in recent days. Western troops are racing to evacuate foreigners and Afghans who helped Western countries during the 20-year war against the Taliban, and to get out themselves by an Aug 31 deadline.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said one blast occurred near the airport's Abbey Gate and the other close to the nearby Baron Hotel. Two US officials said at least one of the explosions appeared to be from a suicide bombing.

“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties,” Kirby said on Twitter. “We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”

A US official told Reuters as many as three US service members were among those hurt, and that US casualty numbers were expected to increase, according to initial information. At least one of the US personnel was seriously hurt, an official said.

The US Embassy in Kabul described “a large explosion” and said there had been reports of gunfire.

Western nations warn of terror threat at Kabul airport

Western nations warned their citizens on Thursday to immediately leave the surrounds of Kabul airport over a terrorist threat, as thousands of people try to reach a dwindling number of evacuation flights.

Nearly 90,000 Afghans and foreigners have fled Afghanistan via the US-led airlift since the Taliban took control of the country on August 15.

Huge crowds are gathered in and around the airport, becoming increasingly desperate as some foreign nations cease flights ahead of Tuesday's deadline by US President Joe Biden to end the evacuations and withdraw the US troops overseeing it.

One reason for the hard deadline cited by Biden and his aides this week was an “acute” terrorist threat from the regional chapter of the Islamic State (IS) group.

The US government and its allies raised the alarm further on Thursday with a series of coordinated and specific advisories for their citizens to avoid the airport.

“Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” said the US State Department, citing unspecified “security threats”. - Agencies