Australian citizens and visa holders prepare to board the Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft as Australian Army infantry personnel arrive on Aug.
SGT Glen McCarthy | Australia’s Ministry of Defense | via Reuters
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon on Thursday confirmed two explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, which left a number of U.S. and civilian casualties.
An explosion at the airport’s Abbey Gate “was the result of a complex attack that left a number of US and civilian casualties,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. At least one other explosion occurred near the Baron Hotel not far from Abbey Gate, Kirby said.
Three U.S. Marines were among those injured at Abbey Gate, NBC News reported, citing American military personnel.
The Pentagon has postponed a press conference that was originally scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET.
About 5,400 US soldiers help with the evacuation efforts in Kabul. The British have about 1,000 soldiers helping with the evacuation effort. The UK Ministry of Defense said there were no government or military victims in Kabul following the attack.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been informed of the situation.
“The President met with his national security team on Thursday morning, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chief of Staff of the US Army, General Mark Milley, and commanders on the ground in Kabul.” The White House announced in a statement.
“He will continue to receive updates on the evolving situation throughout the day,” the statement said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also found out about the situation at the airport, said a spokesman.
A meeting between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the White House scheduled for 11:30 p.m. ET has also been postponed.
The US embassy in Kabul called the explosion “large” and said there were reports of gunfire urging Americans to avoid traveling to the airport and its gates.
The embassy had previously issued a security warning urging Americans to avoid the airport: “US citizens who are now at Abbey Gate, East Gate or North Gate should leave immediately,” the warning said.
In the past 24 hours, Western forces evacuated 13,400 people from Kabul on 91 military cargo plane flights. Since the mass evacuations began on August 14, around 95,700 people have been flown out of Afghanistan.
About 101,300 people have been evacuated since the end of July, including about 4,500 US citizens and their families.
Warning: graphic image. Volunteers and medical personnel unloaded on Aug. 26 after two violent explosions that killed at least six people.
Deputy Kohsar | AFP | Getty Images
Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken said Wednesday that as many as 1,500 Americans may still need to be evacuated in Afghanistan, a calculation he said was “difficult to determine with absolute precision”.
The country’s top diplomat added that the US is currently “aggressively” approaching about 1,000 contacts “several times a day through multiple communication channels” to determine if they are still ready to leave and to give them instructions on how to do so .
Blinken added that the actual number could also be lower.
“The US government does not follow the movements of the Americans when they travel around the world,” Blinken said in his first press conference since the Afghan government’s collapse with the Taliban more than a week ago.
“There could be other Americans in Afghanistan who have never signed up with the embassy, who have ignored public evacuation instructions, and have not yet identified themselves.”
Read more about developments in Afghanistan:
Biden reaffirmed Tuesday to leaders of the G-7, NATO, the United Nations and the European Union that the United States will withdraw its military from Afghanistan by the end of the month.
The president warned that staying in Afghanistan for extended periods of time poses serious risks to foreign troops and civilians. Biden said ISIS-K, an Afghanistan-based offshoot of the terrorist group, posed a growing threat to the airport.
“Every day we are there is another day we know that ISIS-K is trying to attack the airport and target both US and Allied forces and innocent civilians,” he said.
The Taliban said Tuesday that the group would no longer allow Afghan nationals to leave the country on evacuation flights, nor would they accept an extension of the exit period beyond the end of the month.
“We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave the country,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.
“She [the Americans] have the option, they have all the resources, they can take with them all the people who belong to them, but we will not allow Afghans to leave and we will not extend the deadline, “he said. August would be a “violation” of a promise by the Biden government to end the US military’s mission in the country, Mujahid said.
CNBC’s Spencer Kimball contributed to this report from New York.
This story evolves. Please check again for updates.