(CNN) – The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a Kabul airport as the United States and other nations sought to evacuate endangered Afghans from the Taliban in the Afghan capital. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at least one person had been arrested since then.
Three U.S. officials and a source familiar with the situation said, according to initial reports, some U.S. employees were among the injured.
A Taliban spokesman said 13 people had been killed and 52 wounded so far.
A Taliban spokesman said he would “take all necessary steps to bring those responsible for the bombings near Kabul airport to justice.”
“I confirm there were two explosions in a crowd of people in an area controlled by U.S. forces. 13 people were killed and 52 were injured,” he said.
“We strongly condemn this horrific incident targeting civilians and will take all necessary steps to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Taliban spokesman Sohail Shaheen told CNN.
Shaheen said there was no sign yet of the nationality of the victims. CNN could not independently verify the Taliban report.
“We can confirm that the explosion near the abbey gate of Kabul airport has caused an unknown number of casualties. We will continue to update,” Kirby originally tweeted.
The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
Crowds of Afghans gather at the gate to access the airport, which has become the only airport to leave the country since the Taliban captured Kabul.
After a while there was another explosion at the same door.
The reaction of some countries to the explosion in Kabul
The U.S. embassy in Kabul said U.S. citizens at the airport’s abbey gate, east gate or north gate should “leave immediately” after the bombing.
“There was a huge explosion at the airport and there were reports of gunfire,” the security alert said. “American citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid the airport gates at this time,” he added.
David Martin, the French ambassador to Afghanistan, warned of a possible second explosion at Kabul airport. “To all our Afghanistan friends, if you are near the airport gates, get out quickly and cover up. A second explosion is possible,” he tweeted.
Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the airport by US forces and NATO allies in the past two weeks. With the August 31 deadline for the final withdrawal from the 20-year war in Afghanistan looming, these emissions will begin to decline in the next few days.
A U.S. official said there were casualties in Afghanistan, but no US casualties were reported.
Security concerns in Afghanistan
U.S. officials said Thursday that security concerns around the airport had escalated due to “very specific threats.”
The best American diplomat in Kabul, Amb. Ross Wilson was unable to quote details of the security threat outside the gates of Kabul airport on Thursday in the diplomatic alert, but noted that “this is clearly credible, immediate and compelling.”
A White House official says US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the bombing outside Kabul airport.
A UK government spokesman said the government was “urgent” in establishing what had happened and its impact on the eviction efforts.
“Our primary concern is the safety of our staff, British citizens and the citizens of Afghanistan. We are in close contact with the United States and other NATO allies in providing an immediate response to this incident.”
– CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Jim Seuto, Jennifer Honsler and Lauren Moorehouse contributed to this report.
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