Crowds continued to throng Kabul airport on Friday despite the deadly attacks that rattled the airport yesterday, even as the death toll climbed to north of 170 and the British government released new information about UK personnel who were killed.
But despite the fact that multiple reporters on the ground reporter hearing at least two explosions, the Pentagon has just announced that, actually, only one suicide-bombing took place during the "coordinated" attack on the airport. Despite early reports to the contrary, the Pentagon insists that there was only one explosion that rocked the perimeter of Kabul's airport, not two.
Army Major General William Taylor told reporters that officials now believe there was only one suicide bomber.
"We do not believe that there was a second explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, that it was one suicide bomber," Gen. Taylor said.
He explained that "very dynamic events" like those on Thursday often lead to some misinformation being reported.
Additionally, the reported toll of the bombing rose sharply, with local health officials saying that as many as 170 people were killed and at least another 200 were wounded. According to the NYT, that estimate has been corroborated by interviews with people on the ground.
In other news, Spain's leftist PM slammed the US withdrawal, while celebrating Spain's success when it comes to evacuating 2,206 people via 17 flights, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at a news conference, calling the rescue operation "mission accomplished."
Still, the situation inside Afghanistan is "a tragedy, a crisis, a failure," he added. Spain had harbored "many doubts" about the US decision to pull out. "All of this is going to bring a series of consequences from the point of view of geopolitics, security and migratory flows that evidently we will have to have to reconsider, and take measures jointly."
When pressed by reporters, Gen. Taylor declined to detail how U.S. will follow through on Biden's vow to "hunt down" ISIS-K terrorists while also withdrawing troops: "We have options there right now, that we can ensure the commander has the ability to take action as those opportunities present themselves"
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed Friday that two British nationals and the child of another British national were killed during Thursday's attacks. Raab said he was "deeply saddened" by the deaths and added that "Yesterday's despicable attack underlines the dangers facing those in Afghanistan and reinforces why we are doing all we can to get people out. We are offering consular support to their families.
Activity at the airport picked up again on Friday, though the size of the crow thronging outside the airport perimeter had shrunk considerably from the levels from earlier in the week. The US military and the Taliban tried to exert what authority they could, as militants with Kalashnikov rifles helped keep crowds farther away from the airport's entrance gates, guarding checkpoints with trucks and at least one Humvee parked in the roads. The American military resumed evacuation flights, and the White House said early Friday that 12,500 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan in the previous 24 hours, despite the attacks.
Still, an estimated hundreds of thousands of Afghans and western citizens remain in Afghanistan despite being desperate to escape from the rule of the Taliban.