By Arab News
Joe Biden’s national security team has told the president that another terror attack is “likely” in Kabul, and that “maximum force protection” measures are being taken at the airport in the Afghan capital.
US forces helping to evacuate Afghans desperate to flee Taliban rule are on alert for more attacks following Thursday’s Daesh suicide bombing outside Kabul airport.
Some US media including the New York Times quoted local health officials as saying up to 170 people, not including the US troops, had died in the attack.
The White House said the next few days of an evacuation operation that has taken more than 100,000 people out of the country in the past two weeks were likely to be the most dangerous.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US believed there were still “specific, credible” threats against the airport. “We certainly are prepared and would expect future attempts,” Kirby told reporters in Washington. “We’re monitoring these threats, very, very specifically, virtually in real time.”
Daesh, an enemy of the Taliban as well as the West, said one of its suicide bombers had targeted “translators and collaborators with the American army.”
The Pentagon said the attack was carried out by one suicide bomber, not two as earlier thought.
The UN Security Council condemned the bombing as “especially abhorrent” for targeting civilians trying to flee the country.
Biden said he had ordered the Pentagon to plan how to strike Daesh-Khorasan, the group that claimed responsibility.
Asked if Biden sought to capture and put on trial those responsible, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “I think he made it clear that he does not want them to live on the earth anymore.”
The Taliban said that Afghans with valid documents would be able to travel freely in the future at any time, in comments aimed at calming fears that the movement planned harsh restrictions on freedom.
It has also conveyed to the US its desire to see a US diplomatic presence remain in Kabul, US officials said. But speaking at the White House, Psaki knocked down that idea. “We’re not predicting a diplomatic presence on the ground in Afghanistan (after Aug. 31),” she said.
Up to half a million Afghans could flee their homeland by year-end, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said, appealing to all neighboring countries to keep their borders open.