The attack began at about 5:11 p.m. local time on Thursday while thousands of people, including many Afghan families with children, were trying to get onto flights to leave Afghanistan, where the Taliban has taken control.
According to initial reports, a suicide car bomber blew himself up at a sewage canal in the vicinity of Abbey Gate, which has been used by British and American forces. Gunfire was heard and a second bombing was later reported in the same area, but closer to the Baron Hotel.
The exact number of casualties was not immediately known, early numbers say least 30 people were killed and more than 100 others have been injured. Videos from the scene showed injured people and what appeared to be a pile of bodies.
At least 4 U.S. Marines were killed and three others were injured.
“We can confirm that a number of U.S. service members were killed in today’s complex attack at Kabul airport,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “A number of others are being treated for wounds. We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack.”
Kirby added: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and injured.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday’s deadly attack, but a U.S. official told the Associated Press that it was “definitely believed” to have been carried out by the Islamic State group (ISIS).
“The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the bombing of civilians at Kabul Airport, which took place in an area where security is in the hands of U.S. forces,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
Thursday’s attack came less than a day after the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned of security threats outside the gates of Kabul’s international airport. Specifically, it said Americans at Abbey Gate, East Gate, and North Gate “should leave immediately.”