US military drone strike in Kabul takes out a ‘suspected suicide bomber’ near airport

US officials say the vehicle was carrying a ‘substantial amount of explosive material’ intended for an attack on the airport

By Jane Clinton |

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – AUGUST 29: Smoke rises after an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 29, 2021. (Photo by Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The US says it has carried out a successful drone strike on suicide bombers near Kabul airport, after putting Afghans and troops on alert for imminent terror threats.

US officials confirmed that a drone strike destroyed a car heading towards Hamid Karzai International Airport, where Afghans are desperately trying to flee the Taliban.

The vehicle, which was hit on Sunday afternoon, was carrying a suspected Isis-K suicide bomber, military sources said, adding: “We are confident we hit the target we were aiming for. Initial reports indicate there were no civilian casualties.”

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US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the American military’s Central Command, called the drone strike an action taken in “self-defence.” He said authorities continued “assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time.”

“We are confident we successfully hit the target,” Capt Urban said. “Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”

He added: “We remain vigilant for potential future threats.”

A spokesman for the Taliban also said the US airstrike had targeted a suspected bomber.

Other reports had suggested that a rocket hit a house near to the airport killing a child, according to an Afghan police chief.

It is unclear if the two incidents are connected.

Television footage and images shared on social media appeared to show black smoke rising from the scene of a blast.

The unrest comes just hours after US president Joe Biden warned of an imminent terrorist attack targeting the airport, urging civilians to avoid the area and putting the remaining US troops on alert.

Mr Biden said: “The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high.

“Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours. I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground.”

This latest US strike is the second since Thursday’s airport suicide bombing.

On Friday a strike in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province killed two “high-profile” Isis-K targets and one other was injured, the US Defense Department said on Saturday.

As of Sunday morning, there were no remaining British forces at the airport in Kabul, where nearly 200 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on Thursday.

Mr Biden has vowed to carry out further attacks against Isis-K, the Islamic State offshoot responsible for Thursday’s bombing, though all US troops are expected to depart Kabul by Tuesday under the leader’s agreement with the Taliban.

Following Britain’s withdrawal Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK departure from Afghanistan was “the culmination of a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes”.

More than 15,000 people have been evacuated by the UK since 14 August

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