At least 13 US soldiers were among scores of people killed in two attacks at Kabul’s airport on Thursday, US officials said.
More than 70 Afghans, including 28 Taliban members, were counted among the dead after the twin bombings and shootings that were claimed by ISIL, Taliban and hospital sources told Al Jazeera.
“A thirteenth US service member has died from his wounds suffered as a result of the attack on Abbey Gate,” Central Command spokesman Captain Bill Urban said in a statement.
Despite the attack, Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie Jr, commander of the US Central Command, said that the US is “continuing to execute the mission,” to evacuate US citizens and as many Afghans, who have documents to leave the country.
“Our mission is to evacuate US citizens or third-country nationals, especially immigrant visa holders, US embassy staff and Afghans at risk,” McKenzie.
Earlier, two US officials told The Associated Press that of the 12 initially killed, 11 were Marines and one a Navy medic. Information about the 13th fatality is still not available.
The US presently has 5,800 troops at the airport in Kabul working to evacuate thousands of US citizens, Afghans and others.
The apparent suicide vest attack occurred at the Abbey Gate to the airport where US forces were screening Afghan civilians for admission to the airport, McKenzie said.
McKenzie said “ISIS gunmen” also had opened fire on the crowds and US forces after the bomb detonated.