Twin suicide bombings outside Hamid Karzai International Airport and the Baron Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed at least 60 people, including 11 U.S. Marines and one Navy medic, and wounded another 150 people on Thursday.
11 US Marines and one Navy medic were among those killed in a series of suicide bomb attacks on Kabul airport on Thursday, the first American lives to be lost since Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan evacuation effort began on August 14.
The President has not commented publicly on the deaths and he is not scheduled to make any kind of statement or speech on Thursday. The deafening silence has angered Republicans who say the blood of those killed is on his hands.
An official death toll has not yet been given but according to those on the ground including a New York Times reporter who counted 40 dead bodies. The Wall Street Journal said 60 Afghans had died.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby released a statement saying a ‘number’ had died, but he wouldn’t give any additional details. Other troops are feared to have been injured.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a statement to say the US will not be ‘dissuaded’ from the mission.
At a 3pm briefing, Join Chiefs Chairman, Gen. Mark Milley said the evacuation will continue, despite the ‘very real’ threat to the troops on the ground. 1,000 people remain on the ground, but Milley said ‘not even wants to leave’.
‘ISIS will not deter us from accomplishing the mission,’ he said.
Biden’s meetings were canceled on Thursday but he has not spoken publicly.
Neither the President nor anyone in the administration has offered a plan for getting out the remaining troops and civilians before August 31, the Taliban’s deadline.
Norway, Poland, Holland and Canada have all stopped evacuating citizens. In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said the doors at the airport are ‘closed’.
The State Department is telling Americans stuck in Afghanistan to stay in their homes, while Britain has told its stranded citizens to make a run for the Pakistan border, along with thousands of Afghan refugees.
Republicans, outraged about the terrorist attacks in Kabul that left US personnel dead, accused President Biden of having ‘blood on his hands,’ as Sen. Lindsey Graham urged the US to take back control of Bagram airbase after reports of two explosions at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
‘I have advocated for days that the Bagram Air Base should be reopened as the Kabul airport is very difficult to defend and has been the only evacuation outlet,’ the South Carolina Republican wrote on Twitter.
‘We have the capability to reestablish our presence at Bagram to continue to evacuate American citizens and our Afghan allies. The biggest mistake in this debacle is abandoning Bagram.’
‘I urge the Biden Administration to reestablish our presence in Bagram as an alternative to the Kabul airport so that we do not leave our fellow citizens and thousands of Afghan allies behind. It is not a capability problem, but a problem of will,’ Graham said.
‘The retaking of Bagram would put our military at risk, but I think those involved in the operation would gladly accept that risk because it would restore our honor as a nation and save lives.’
Lawmakers were briefed on the situation this week by Biden’s national security team.
Meanwhile, Democrat Foreign Affairs Committee chair Sen. Bob Menendez, said: ‘This is a full-fledged humanitarian crisis and US government personnel … must secure the airport.’
‘As we wait for more details to come in, one thing is clear: We can’t trust the Taliban with Americans’ security.’
House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring back the House so that lawmakers can be briefed on the situation.
‘Today’s attacks are horrific. My prayers go out to those who were injured and the families of those who were killed. I also continue to pray for the safety of our troops, the stranded American citizens, our allies and Afghan partners who remain in the area. Our enemies have taken advantage of the chaotic nature of the withdrawal,’ the California Republican said in a statement.
‘It is time for Congress to act quickly to save lives. Speaker Pelosi must bring Congress back into session before August 31 so that we can be briefed thoroughly and comprehensively by the Biden Administration and pass Representative Gallagher’s legislation prohibiting the withdrawal of our troops until every American is out of Afghanistan.’
Other lawmakers submitted an outpouring of prayers for American troops on the ground and Afghans on Twitter as they, along with the rest of the world, watch and wait to see how a series of attacks on Kabul airport unfold.
Still others demanded a forceful response and called for ‘resignations’ out of the White House. Some warned the worst could be yet to come.
Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., reupped a call for Biden to resign.
‘Biden Admin views abandoned people in Afghanistan as a political nuisance. Maybe looking at them as real people instead of ‘papers to push’ would produce rescues rather than deaths. It’s time for Biden to RESIGN NOW!!!’
‘Should Biden step down or be removed for his handling of Afghanistan? Yes,’ Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted. ‘But that would leave us with Kamala Harris which would be ten times worse. God help us.’