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60 civilians, 12 US soldiers killed, dozen others injured in blast at Kabul airport

Seventy-two people were killed and dozens injured, including American troops, in an explosion at the Kabul airport on Thursday, according to the Pentagon and Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health. The blast ripped through the Abbey Gate of the international section just hours after a Western intelligence warning. The airport was swamped with Afghans fleeing the country seized by the Taliban, fearing repression. There was a second explosion at Baron Hotel near the airport.

NEW DELHI, Aug 26: At least 60 civilians and 12 US soldiers were killed and dozens of others injured in a huge explosion at the Kabul airport on Thursday. There was also a second explosion at a hotel near the airport. The ISIS has claimed the blasts. Gunfire also followed the explosions.

Video images uploaded by Afghan journalists showed dozens of bodies. An Italian charity hospital alone was treating more than 60 wounded. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said "at least 52 people" were wounded in the blast near Baron Hotel close to Abbey Gate of Kabul airport where the first blast took place.

Another Taliban spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen said, "I confirm two explosions. We strongly condemn this gruesome incident and will take every step to bring the culprits to justice."

A third blast reported near Kabul airport occurred when a Taliban vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in central Kabul.

The explosions took place just hours after the US, UK, Belgium and Australia asked their citizens to leave the premises of the airport overcrowded by Afghans trying to flee the country fearing repression by the Taliban which has taken control of Afghanistan, following an intelligence warning of an imminent terrorist attack. While the UK had said the attack was imminent in hours, Belgium had said it could be a suicide bombing.

The Pentagon has confirmed US casualties but not the figures.

UK evacuation operation will continue: PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the UK evacuation operation in Afghanistan will continue for a bit longer. French President Emmanuel Macron has voiced full support for an "American allies" response to the explosions.

The UK has warned airlines to avoid flying below 25,000 feet over Afghanistan.

French President Macron said that the country's ambassador will leave Afghanistan but France will try to evacuate 'several hundred' more Afghans. Canada said its airlift is over.

The blast has been confirmed by Pentagon press secretary John Kirby who said the huge explosion took place at the Abbey Gate of the international section. The blast was followed by firing. Nusrat Ghani, Tory MP of Wealden (East Sussex, England) tweeted he was at the time on phone with an Afghan outside the airport who was witness to the blast.

The White House said on Wednesday that so far since August 14 95,700 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan by the US and alliance partners. On Wednesday 13,400 people were airlifted. The deadline for the US and allies to leave is August 31 as per the agreement with the Taliban. The US says 1,500 Americans remain to be airlifted. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said as the deadline is nearing now the priority will be to evacuate the Americans.

Canada's acting Chief of Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre said on Thursday Canada has stopped the evacuation process because of the deadline although some Canadians were left behind. Canada has airlifted a total of 3,700 people.

Meanwhile, in a new development, Russia has said it is in touch with the US Government about the crisis in Afghanistan and that it is interested in peace in that country. Moscow has not yet recognised Taliban.

Russia sends military aid to border countries

At the same Russia has admitted it is sending military aid to Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan to ramp up its bases to face any eventuality, especially a rush of refugees which President Putin has said they are not ready to accommodate for fear of spies and terrorists creeping in.

Taliban has seized most of the country but is yet to form a Government even as the domestic situation is worsening with all sources of internal and external funding having been blocked. Most banks are not operating and the people are without cash to buy daily essentials.

A huge humanitarian crisis is set to overtake Afghanistan especially as even medical supplies are being blocked from reaching the country. Families which have been displaced are seen begging for food on the streets of Kabul near the overcrowded airport.

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