U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the multiple explosions outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul that killed multiple U.S. military service members and civilians a “barbaric terrorist attack” during remarks Thursday.
Johnson had ordered a meeting of the government’s emergency committee after the explosions were reported outside the Kabul airport earlier Thursday, according to Politico Europe. He offered his condolences to the U.S. soldiers and Afghans who “very sadly have lost their lives” during the attack.
“We extend our condolences both to the United States of America and to the people of Afghanistan,” Johnson said. He later told Sky News after the meeting that the U.K. had been “prepared for” an attack and would “continue with” its operation to evacuate U.K. citizens and Afghans who worked with U.K. forces or are considered vulnerable.
I utterly condemn the barbaric terrorist attack in Kabul in which Afghans and members of the US military lost their lives.
The threat of terrorist attack is one of the constraints we’ve been operating under, but our evacuation effort continues with over 12,000 extracted so far. pic.twitter.com/DXCFPj9KQC
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 26, 2021
The first explosion hit the Baron Hotel, which was being used by U.K. military and diplomatic personnel, according to Politico Europe. But the U.K. defense ministry confirmed there were no British military or civilian casualties during the attack.
Defense Department officials confirmed Thursday morning there was an explosion outside the airport’s Abbey Gate entrance. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby also confirmed there were “a number of U.S. and civilian casualties.”
Officials later said there were two explosions that ripped through crowds outside the airport where the U.S. and coalition forces have been conducting a major evacuation operation. In addition to the explosion, there were reports of gunfire in the area surrounding the airport.
The Defense Department has confirmed 12 U.S. soldiers were killed and 15 were injured in the explosions. Afghan health officials estimated there were at least 30 to 40 confirmed total fatalities as a result of the attacks, according to The New York Times.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the U.S. Central Command, told reporters during a briefing that militants associated with ISIS were responsible for the attacks. The terrorist group’s news agency has claimed responsibility for the attack on the social media platform Telegram, Reuters reported.