US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)
The US Embassy in Kabul has warned Americans, who are looking to be evacuated out of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, to avoid travelling to the Kabul airport and asked them to "immediately leave" the gates.
"US citizens who are at the Abbey gate, East gate, North gate or the New Ministry of Interior gate now should leave immediately," the embassy said in a security alert on Saturday.
"Because of security threats at the Kabul airport, we continue to advise US citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates," it added.
The alert did not specify what the security threats might be, but it followed Thursdayís bombing that killed scores of people including at least 13 US servicemen.
The warning came after the Pentagon warned on Friday that the airlift operation to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies still faced "specific, credible threats."
The Thursday attack claimed by the Daesh terrorist group targeted American forces but hit hardest the mass of Afghan civilians who had converged on the airport in desperate hopes of catching evacuation flights.
The US military said it carried out a drone strike against a Daesh planner early Saturday morning in what appeared to be a retaliatory attack for the bombing at Kabul airport.
"The unmanned air strike occurred in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. Initial indications are that we killed the target," Captain Bill Urban of the US Central Command said in a statement. "We know of no civilian casualties."
An estimated 1,500 Americans and countless other foreigners, still stranded in Afghanistan, try to make it to the airport to leave before the deadline of August 31.
US President Joe Biden said this week he would not extend the deadline for the complete withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan after the Taliban warned that such a move would be unacceptable.
Biden has come under attack from all sides over the ill-planned and badly executed withdrawal process, with a growing chorus of Republicans amplifying their criticism by calling for the president to either resign or be impeached in the wake of the Kabul blast.
The outrage over the American deaths Thursday was compounded by news that the Biden administration gave the Taliban the names of Americans and Afghan allies it wanted to evacuate.
Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee joined a wave of other Republicans calling on Biden to resign.
Hawley said in a statement issued by his office Thursday that Biden "has now overseen the deadliest day for US troops in Afghanistan in over a decade, and the crisis grows worse by the hour."
"We must reject the falsehood peddled by a feckless president that this was the only option for withdrawal," wrote Hawley. "This is the product of Joe Bidenís catastrophic failure of leadership," he added.
In the House, Rep. Virginia Foxx and Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina also derided Bidenís "incompetence," while congressman Greg Murphy called for Bidenís resignation.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina went one step further, sending letters to Vice President Kamala Harris and Bidenís Cabinet officials asking them to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows them to declare "the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
The White House has defended the chaotic withdrawal, countering that the operation would be messy no matter when it happened and that the airlift out of Afghanistan has saved many lives.
"This is why, from the outset, Iíve repeatedly said this mission was extraordinarily dangerous and why I have been so determined to limit the duration of this mission," Biden said Thursday after the airport bombing.