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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Qatar condemns attacks as third deadly explosion rocks Kabul airport


US officials believe that Islamic State-affiliate Khorasan was behind the attacks.

Qatar strongly condemned deadly attacks that targeted the gates of Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan on Thursday, where thousands of Afghans desperate to flee the country are awaiting evacuation.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates Qatar’s firm position on rejecting violence and terrorism, regardless of the motives and reasons. The ministry expresses Qatar’s condolences to the families of the victims and wishes the injured a speedy recovery,” read the statement by Doha’s foreign ministry [MOFA].

Suspected suicide bombers carried out at least three consecutive violent attacks outside the airport, killing dozens of Afghans and at least 11 US marines and one navy medic.

In a statement following the twin blasts earlier today, the Taliban condemned attacks that took place in an area controlled by the US military.

“The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing targeting civilians at Kabul airport,” said Taliban spokesman in Kabul Zabihullah Mujahid.

According to reports, more than 50 people were confirmed killed though the toll is now likely to increase after the third reported explosion.

Graphic videos that surfaced online showed dozens of bodies scattered at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Following the two blasts, the Pentagon confirmed “a number of US service members were killed” in the attack at the airport.

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

Kirby has yet to comment on the third blast.

A witness at the scene told Reuters: “There was a very strong and powerful suicide attack, in the middle of the people. Many were killed, including Americans, many were killed and many injured”.

While no group or individual has immediately claimed the attacks, US officials have pointed the finger at IS affiliate, ISIS-Khorosan. The group, which first emerged in eastern Afghanistan at the end of 2014, is an enemy of both the West and the Taliban.

A Taliban official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the militants’ guards securing the airport were among the wounded.

“Our guards are also risking their lives at Kabul airport, they face a threat too from the Islamic State group,” said the Taliban official, before the reports of the blasts.

US troop withdrawal

Chaos has erupted in Afghanistan since US President Joe Biden announced his decision to withdraw all American and NATO forces by 31 August.

The announcement triggered crossfire between the Taliban and US-trained Afghan forces as foreign troops departed the country. By the second week of August, the Taliban had entered Kabul, with former President Ashraf Ghani fleeing to the UAE.

The speed at which the events in Afghanistan developing led to rushed evacuations, with the US and its allies conducting one of the biggest air evacuations in history, moving nearly 100,000 people out of the country, including 13,400 alone on Wednesday.

So far, Qatar has evacuated more than 40,000 people from Afghanistan with the number expected to increase over the next few days and weeks.

Exclusive: Taliban warns US deadline extension would mark ‘second violation’

There have been several concerns over the August deadline, with little time left to evacuate the thousands who remain in Afghanistan.

“We wish we could have stayed longer and rescued everyone,” the acting chief of Canada’s defence staff, General Wayne Eyre, told reporters, with Canada saying it could no longer continue its airlift.

Several foreign forces have called on the Biden administration to extend the deadline though the Taliban has warned of consequences if such an extension occurs.

Speaking to Doha News on Wednesday, Taliban spokesman in Qatar Suhail Shaheen said the extension would be a “second violation” by the US.

“You see, if they violate this, it will be the second violation. First, they violated the agreement because they were to withdraw completely by May 1. Then they announced, President Biden, that he will withdraw his forces by 31 of August. Now if he violates it, it will be a second violation and it will create suspicion of course,” he said.

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