Kabul airport attack: Bloody corpses line ditch after suicide bomb kills at least 73

The ISIS-K attack at the Kabul airport killed US Marines and locals, gruesome social media footage show the aftermath of the explosions

                            Kabul airport attack: Bloody corpses line ditch after suicide bomb kills at least 73
Screenshots of the ditch outside Hamid Karzai airport where people had lined up before (L) and after (R) the aftermath of the suicide bombing (Twitter)

Warning: Graphic content

Kabul witnessed its first terrorist attack supposedly coordinated by the ISIS-K on August 26. Two bombs exploded near the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport, and the Baron Hotel, followed by gunfire. As a result, over 70 people were killed including 12 US Marines and an army medic. In the aftermath, a graphic video emerged showing bodies lying in a ditch nearby, floating in the water as locals searched for survivors.

The Pentagon confirmed the blast, as did the Taliban, who indicated that they had warned the US of a possible attack. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack, even releasing a photo of the purported bomber. The US president has repeatedly warned that US service members could be at risk, which is why he chose to end evacuations on August 31 without an extension. The date was a red line agreed upon with the Taliban and as it approaches, the group has indicated that things could get out of hand.


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The bloody and brutal attack has not impacted evacuations, according to Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, Centcom Commander. "Despite this attack, we are continuing the mission, the evacuation at best speed," he said according to CNN. McKenzie added, "But right now our focus really, we have other active threat streams, extremely active threat streams against the airfield, we want to make sure we are taking the steps to protect ourselves there. Our focus is on that." 

U.S. Air Force loads passengers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) on August 24, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa)

Bodies line ditch as many dead

Right now, it's unclear exactly how many people have died. We know that 13 US service members have lost their lives, but there's still a big question mark on the number of Afghans killed. Some estimate it at 60, others at 90. We do have some understanding of the scale after a social media video emerged. The video appears to have been uploaded by an Afghan national on Twitter, but it is unclear as of now where exactly it originated from. 

The 20-second clip shows a ditch near the airport strewn with bodies, as the water is red from blood. Bodies also line the pavement, surrounded by clothes and other items. We are not embedding the clip here, out of respect for the dead, but if you want to see it, here's the link to the Twitter post. The video shows at least 20 or so bodies, as locals rushed to find survivors. People can be heard shouting in the background, in what sounds like an attempt to coordinate relief efforts. 

A Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) passes out water to evacuees at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 22. (Sgt. Isaiah Campbell / U.S. Marine Corps)


Some people can be seen pulling up bodies from the ditch, as others look on. It's unclear from the footage if any actually survived the blast in that area. Reports indicate that there are over 120 people injured, including 18 US service members. All the bodies in the video, all the bodies appear to be that of locals, no US or allied service members were visible. The video has since been retweeted and shared by numerous others, including journalists. 

The ditch appears to be just outside the airport, where hundreds of Afghans were lined up earlier "begging to be let in." ABC's senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell shared a video on August 25 of the scenes, tweeting, "Devastating scenes at Kabul airport. Knee deep in sewage, waving their papers, begging to be let in." Since the attack, another angle of the video has emerged, showing bodies lying on the sidewalk outside the ditch in more gory detail. 



In the aftermath of the attack, Gen. McKenzie confirmed the US was coordinating with the Taliban. "They don't get the full range of information we have. But we give them enough to act in time and space to try to prevent these attacks," he said. More attacks are expected in the coming days, as the US winds down its evacuation and prepares to drawdown operations in Afghanistan. Despite promises, it seems the Taliban will give ISIS and other groups a free hand, which could pose a major challenge in the coming months and years. 

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