“There was an explosion against the Americans, a bunch of people were killed, civilians and military,” said one Taliban fighter at the gate, who declined to give his name. “The situation is out of control. There’s a lot of dead people on the ground there.”
The Taliban condemned the attack, and U.S. officials said they did believe the organization was not behind it, given its desire to maintain an orderly evacuation. Officials this week warned about potential attacks by a Taliban rival, the Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the terrorist group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.
A number of U.S. service members were among the dead, and others were being treated for wounds, the Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby said in a statement. They appeared to be the first American service members killed in Afghanistan since February 2020.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones and teammates” of those killed, Mr. Kirby said.
Estimates of the number of casualties varied. But video posted on Twitter after the explosions appeared to show bloodied bodies piled on a sidewalk and floating in a canal near the entrance to the airport.
At one emergency hospital, ambulance after ambulance could be seen arriving under the glare of floodlights and the eyes of an anxious crowd, some of them children.