At least two explosions have rocked the area outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday, the Pentagon has confirmed, claiming at least 30 casualties and further complicating chaotic efforts to evacuate the remaining foreigners and refugees.
The New York Times reports that while the total number of injured and dead have yet to be confirmed, local emergency rooms have taken in at least 30 patients as a result of the blast.
An Italian charity has also reported that it is treating over 60 wounded.
An official with the Taliban had previously said at least 13 people were killed by the blast, including children and a number of guards with the Taliban, reports Reuters.
The Taliban has strongly denounced the attack, which spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said “took place in an area where U.S. forces are responsible for security.”
On Twitter, the Taliban spokesman said his group “is paying close attention to the security and protection of its people, and evil circles will be strictly stopped.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. official said that initial reports say that as many as 5 U.S. service members were also wounded, including one seriously.
At least one of the bombs in what the Pentagon is describing as a “complex attack” was believed to have been set off by an assailant wearing a suicide vest, officials believe.
One of the blasts took place near the airport’s Abbey Gate and was followed by small arms fire, while the other took place at the nearby Baron Hotel, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
“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,” Kirby wrote on Twitter. “We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”
The attacks appear to be a terrible confirmation of fears from the U.S. and its allies over ongoing threats from the Islamic State group’s local affiliate, the Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K, which has been vying with the Taliban to establish its presence in Afghanistan.
The bombings are believed to have been carried out by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group, according to experts.
“The more we learn about the attacks the more it is apparent that #ISIS Khorasan Province carried out this attack, and may still carry out more,” wrote Rita Katz, director of the organization SITE Intelligence Group that tracks terrorist threats, on Twitter. “Since Taliban took over, the group has repeatedly warned of upcoming attacks in Afghanistan, and Kabul has long been a top target.”
In recent days, officials have been expressing worry over the possibility that the Islamic State group would launch an attack on the massive undertaking to airlift foreign nationals and their families, as well as some Afghans, from the city following the city’s swift fall to the Taliban on Aug. 15.
A Western diplomat in Kabul said that despite warnings, the airport gates areas have been “incredibly crowded” with thronging masses of evacuees.
The operation by the U.S. and its allies has been one of the largest air evacuations in history, with some 95,700 people being airlifted from the Kabul airport, the White House said on Thursday.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.