US strikes explosives-laden vehicle in Kabul

WASHINGTON – A US military drone strike detonated an explosives-laden vehicle in Kabul on Sunday, Defense Ministry officials said, hours...


WASHINGTON – A US military drone strike detonated an explosives-laden vehicle in Kabul on Sunday, Defense Ministry officials said, hours after President Biden warned that another terrorist attack on the airport of the Afghan capital was “very likely”.

The strike, which came two days before the deadline set for Mr Biden’s withdrawal from the country, eliminated an imminent threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport from Islamic State Khorasan group, a spokesperson for US Central Command said. The group had claimed the suicide bombing at the airport Thursday who killed 13 American servicemen and up to 170 civilians.

Spokesman Captain Bill Urban said the military was trying to determine whether the strike caused civilian casualties, although he noted that there was no immediate evidence of this.

“We are confident that we have successfully hit the target,” he said. “Large secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”

A senior military official said the United States was confident there were no civilians in the vehicle, but acknowledged that the secondary explosions may have caused “collateral damage.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said civilians suffered casualties in the strike and a house was targeted. “We are investigating the reason for the airstrike and the exact number of casualties,” he said.

The strike followed a retaliatory strike Friday for the suicide bombing, which was one of the deadliest in nearly two decades since the United States invaded Afghanistan. Earlier on Sunday, the US embassy in Kabul said there was a “specific and credible threat” to the airport area. State Department officials released several similar warnings in the last days.

As US troops prepare to complete their withdrawal, the Pentagon has turned away from screening and airlifting Afghan and American civilians to bring its personnel home. At the same time, US intelligence sources are fine-tuning target sites for possible drone strikes on suspected ISIS militants, especially suicide bombers aiming to attack the airport.

Sunday’s strike, which was carried out by an MQ-9 Reaper drone operating from a base in the United Arab Emirates, demonstrated how much U.S. intelligence officials have refined their target list, defense officials said. A Hellfire missile fired from the Reaper struck the vehicle about two miles from the airport, a military official said.

Based on the secondary explosions after the drone strike, the military estimated there were one to three people in the vehicle wearing explosive vests. There may have been other explosives in the car, making it an on-board bomb, two defense officials said.

In the past 24 hours, the United States has evacuated approximately 2,000 people on military transport planes, including more than 100 American citizens. The military determined that there were still around 250 Americans in Kabul who had expressed a desire to leave.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” said the number of US citizens in Kabul could be closer to 300. “There are people who have chosen, up to present, not to leave and that is their right, “he said.

“They will not be stranded in Afghanistan” after Tuesday, Sullivan added. “We’re going to make sure we have a mechanism to get them out of the country if they choose to go home in the future.”

Military officials said they had no indication Mr Biden would ask the military to stay after Tuesday to get more vulnerable Americans or Afghans out of the country.

But Sunday’s drone strike demonstrated just how dangerous the last two days of the United States’ 20-Year War would be, defense officials acknowledged. The strike follows Friday’s strike on a vehicle in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, which Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby said. killed two ‘high-level’ Islamic State militants – one a “planner” and the other a “facilitator”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: US strikes explosives-laden vehicle in Kabul
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