The total death toll from Thursday's devastating twin suicide bombing attacks has climbed to over 100 dead by Friday. At least 13 American troops were killed, most of them Marines, in what's being widely acknowledged as the deadliest single day of America's military presence in the country since 2011. Previously in August 2011 a Chinook helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan, killing 31 Americans and 7 Afghan allied troops.
The Taliban is subsequently claiming that at least 28 of its own members were killed in the Thursday attacks at the airport. "We have lost more people than the Americans," an unnamed Taliban official was cited in Reuters as saying on Friday. The Taliban vowed to step up its security around the airport perimeter amid reports that ISIS-K is preparing to mount more attacks.
President Biden and the White House also made clear late Thursday that the US will continue to cooperate with the Taliban's security presence out of "mutual self-interest". However the administration was slammed in press conferences over reports that it handed the Taliban lists of green card holders and Afghans permitted entry to the US who had previously worked with Western forces - tantamount to giving the hardline Islamists an execution list.
Meanwhile more details of how the attacks unfolded continue to emerge: "A suicide bomb attack at the airport’s Abbey Gate was followed by an assault by gunmen, officials said," The Wall Street Journal details. "Another bomb attack took place nearby, at a hotel outside the airport, officials said. Eighteen U.S. service members were injured, the Pentagon said."
The Pentagon confirmed that the American injured are "in the process of being aero-medically evacuated from Afghanistan on specially equipped C-17s with embarked surgical units".
In addition to the 90 civilians dead, Afghan health officials at the capital city's crowded hospitals say more are fighting for their lives, and expect the death toll will likely rise higher. In the immediate aftermath of the tragic scene, many survivors - some barely hanging on - were seen being taken away in wheel barrows as ambulances couldn't make it far into the body-strewn and blood stained street.
Thousands had been packed near airport entrance gates when the blasts went off, creating a huge killing zone given the number of men, women, and children packed so closely together. The Taliban has further blamed the US for the "chaotic evacuation" that precipitated the deadly attacks, according to one Taliban official interviewed by Reuters.
"We have lost more people than the Americans in the airport blast," a Taliban official said, adding that the Taliban was "not responsible for the chaotic evacuation plan prepared by foreign nations".https://t.co/kjfx3WoPih— Dawn.com (@dawn_com) August 27, 2021
The WSJ citied statements by Gen. McKenzie who said "The U.S. believes that a suicide bomber detonated at the front of the gate as he was attempting to get onto the airport compound." The top general vowed, "We will try to improve our procedures." But he added that "we have to continue to let people on the airfield." Likely the suicide bombers were trying to make it as close to US troops as possible, with an ISIS-K statement of responsibility saying one bomber "came within 5 meters" of US personnel before detonation.
Meanwhile the "final window" has been reached for evacuations as we are a mere days away from the Aug.31 deadline, next Tuesday.