Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo has said he is “horrified by the murderous attacks’ that took place yesterday at Kabul international airport.
Yesterday, Belgium ended its evacuation efforts from Afghanistan, motivated by fear that a terrorist attack was imminent. In the evening, at least one bomber detonated his suicide vest. According to the latest numbers, 72 civilians were killed, including children, as well as 13 US troops.
Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by Islamic State.
At a press conference called to announce the end of Operation Red Kite – Belgium’s evacuation mission – De Croo had been critical of the US decision to ignore a plea from fellow G7 members to keep American protection of Kabul airport in place so that foreign nationals and those Afghans who had worked with the allied troops could be airlifted out.
But the operation had to be abandoned, De Croo said, because there were real fears of a terrorist attack on the airport, where thousands of desperate Afghans were trying to board evacuation aircraft.
“Yesterday we received information about this from American and other sources,” he explained.
“In addition, they are in the process of closing the entrance and few people can get into the airport.”
That fear turned out to be well-founded, with one bomb being detonated at the Abbey Gate – one of the main entrances to the airport – and another later at a hotel nearby.
Civilian casualties, according to Reuters, have reached 72 dead and at least 140 wounded. According to US sources, meanwhile, 13 soldiers were killed and 18 injured.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg tweeted: “I strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack outside Kabul airport. My thoughts are with all those affected and their loved ones. Our priority remains to evacuate as many people to safety as quickly as possible.”