At least 13 U.S. military personnel and dozens of Afghans were killed Thursday during twin suicide bombing attacks outside the Kabul airport that sent a crowd of thousands running for cover.
Among the 13 personnel killed were at least 10 Marines and a Navy medic, although that number could increase. At least 15 U.S. military personnel were injured.
The BBC reported that all total, at least 60 people were killed and more than 140 injured.
The attacks came as the United States and its coalition partners airlift Americans and citizens of other countries and at-risk Afghans out of Afghanistan.
"It's a hard day today," Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
McKenzie added, "While we're saddened by the loss of life … we're continuing to execute the mission. Our mission is to evacuate U.S. citizens, third-country nationals, special immigrant visa holders, U.S. embassy staff and Afghans at-risk."
Since Aug. 14, McKenzie said, the U.S. and its partners have airlifted 104,000 civilians – including 66,000 by the U.S. military. McKenzie said the U.S. has airlifted about 5,000 Americans and believes about 1,000 Americans remain in the country.
ISIS-K, an enemy not only of the United States but also of the Taliban, is believed to be responsible for the attacks, U.S. intelligence says.
"We believe it is their desire to continue those attacks, and we expect those attacks to continue, and we're doing everything we can to be prepared for those attacks," McKenzie said.
U.S. and U.K. intelligence had warned earlier in the day of an imminent threat at the airport, yet few people left prior to the bombings, according to the BBC's Secunder Kermani.
"People were in such a state of desperation that they're not going to pay attention to this kind of information," Kermani wrote. "They're hearing all kinds of rumours, and they're just trying to focus on getting out of the country."
Many, he added, had "camped out for days in dire conditions."
"What may have seemed to them a vague or hypothetical threat earlier in the day would not have been enough to put them off going to the airport," Kermani added.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Handout
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.