The United States military on Friday said that it conducted an unmanned airstrike against a planner of the Islamic State-Khorasan, the group that has claimed responsibility for the bombing at the Kabul airport on Thursday.
According to a statement by Bill Urban, a spokesperson for the US Central Command, the drone attack was carried out in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. “Initial indications are that we killed the target,” he said. “We know of no civilian casualties.”
The attack at Kabul airport took place on Thursday evening as the US and other Western countries were completing the evacuation of tens of thousands of their citizens and Afghans ahead of an August 31 deadline for the American troops to exit Afghanistan.
It was earlier reported that two explosions had taken place at the airport, according to the initial information provided by the US Central Command. However, the Pentagon clarified on Friday that there was only one blast, reported Reuters.
“I can confirm for you that we do not believe that there was a second explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, that it was one suicide bomber,” Army Major General William Taylor said.
As of Saturday morning, a total of 79 Afghans lost their lives in the blast, Reuters quoted a hospital official as saying. The attack killed 13 American soldiers.
Hours after the blast, US President Joe Biden vowed to punish the perpetrators of the attack. He added that the US will continue its evacuation operations.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget,” Biden said, addressing the perpetrators of the attack. “We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
The strike on Thursday was authorised by Biden and ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, AP quoted an unidentified defence official as saying.
The airstrike was carried out to target an Islamic State militant who had been planning attacks, Reuters quoted an official as saying.
The drone, which took off from West Asia, reportedly hit the militant, who was in a car along with an associate from the Islamic State. The official said that both of them have been killed.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby had said on Friday that the agency believes that ISIS-K is planning to target the airport again, AFP reported. “We still believe there are credible threats... specific, credible threats,” he said.