Afghan media published harrowing images on Thursday of the immediate aftermath of at least one bombing at Kabul’s international airport, showing bloodied victims carried to the closest airport on wheelbarrows and panicked civilians swarming the capital’s Emergency Hospital.
At least one explosion occurred at the airport – surrounded by as many as tens of thousands of people, according to some estimates – around noon local time on Thursday. According to the Afghan news network Tolo News, eyewitnesses identified the bomb as coming from someone within a crowd of Afghan civilians, indicating a potential suicide bombing. Given the high number of Afghan nationals at the Baron Hotel gate where the blast reportedly occurred, the target of at least the one confirmed bombing appeared to be locals.
The Afghan news network Pajhwok reported that “two back-to-back explosions” had occurred, claiming a second followed the first an hour later but did not elaborate on the report. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby did specify in a message on Twitter that the U.S. government could confirm two explosions and casualties among American citizens.
We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties. We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate. We will continue to update.
— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 26, 2021
1TV News, another Afghan outlet, confirmed at least 13 dead on Thursday, identifying children among the victims. It noted that Taliban jihadists had confirmed several casualties among their own terrorist forces. At Emergency Hospital, the closest medical facility to the attack site, 1TV News confirmed over 30 victims had arrived, among them six who died upon arriving to the hospital.
Tolo News published images from the outside of Emergency Hospital showing the desperation of those trying to get in. Victims appeared to be arriving in small vans. Some of them appeared to be walking, while men carried others inside.
Video: Casualties from bombing attacks at the Kabul airport have been transferred to Emergency Hospital. Reuters quoted a Taliban official saying at least 13 people have been killed. The US Pentagon is reporting at least 2 blasts, one near Abbey Gate & the other near Baron Hotel. pic.twitter.com/vgs7pudEcA
— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) August 26, 2021
Later in the day, Tolo obtained images of the immediate aftermath of the explosion. The detonation appeared to occur in an area flooded with sewage, where at least hundreds of Afghans congregated in an attempt to enter the airport after Taliban leaders announced a ban on Afghan nationals entering the airport on Tuesday. Many unconscious, potentially dead bodies appear to be lying in sewage.
Warning – Graphic images:
Video: Aftermath of attack close to Kabul airport. US Pentagon confirms at least two blasts. Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid told TOLOnews at least 52 people are wounded. #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/pBztAtS7oB
— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) August 26, 2021
Pajhwok published images of men attempting to care for the wounded. The photos show bloodied victims in wheelbarrows pushed by others. The victims appeared in varying states of consciousness.
Warning – Graphic Images:
دکابل هوایي ډګر ته نږدې چاودنه وشوه اود روغتیایي مسولینو په وینا یو شمیر ټپیان د پیښې له ځایه د ایمرجنسي روغتون ته انتقال شوي دي.
د امریکا ددفاع وزارت ویاند جان کربي په ټویټر باندې د یو پیغام په خپرولو سره دغه پیښه تائید کړې ده pic.twitter.com/GlZpgCe6ZA
— Pajhwok Afghan News (@pajhwok) August 26, 2021
As dusk fell on Kabul, emergency workers increased their efforts to get all the wounded out of the airport. Many appeared to be carted off on stretchers but put in cars or vans that did not appear to be official emergency vehicles; some appeared to be taxis. Some of the wounded did not appear to be clearly conscious, while others were standing, sobbing, covered in blood.
No terrorist organization has taken responsibility for the attack at press time. The Taliban, now the ruling power of Afghanistan, has denied involvement and claimed its own casualties in the assault.