Coordinated explosions on Thursday tore through crowds of people at Kabul airport who were hoping to board flights to safety, as countries raced to evacuate as many people as possible before an August 31 deadline.
President Joe Biden vowed to hunt down those behind the suicide bombings that killed 13 American troops in the worst single-day loss for the Pentagon in Afghanistan since 2011.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said in an address from the White House during which he said the evacuations would continue until August 31.
“We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation” of vulnerable people, he said.
There remained an “opportunity for the next several days, between now and the 31st, to be able to get them out”, he said.
“Knowing the threat, knowing that we may very well have another attack, the military has concluded that that’s what we should do. I think they are right.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson denounced the attack as “barbaric”, paying tribute to the “phenomenal effort” of those involved in the evacuation operation.
He added that Britain would “keep going up until the last moment”.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added that personnel continued to work even “under fire”.
“We will not let the cowardly acts of terrorists stop us.”
President Emmanuel Macron also pledged to see the evacuations “through to the end”.
He offered “his condolences to the families of the American and Afghan victims” and saluted “the heroism of those who are on the ground to carry out the evacuation operations”.
La France s’associe à la peine des familles des victimes des attaques terroristes à Kaboul. Ceux qui conduisent les opérations d’évacuation sont des héros. Nous mènerons à leur terme ces opérations et maintiendrons dans la durée notre action pour protéger les Afghans menacés.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 26, 2021
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: “We are working to evacuate as many people as possible.
“The international community stands with the Afghan people.”
European sorrow, outrage
Condemning the “despicable terrorist attack”, Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said: “I mourn the death of Afghans and members of the US military.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi condemned “this vile and horrible attack against defenceless people seeking liberty”.
Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide tweeted: “Innocent civilians trying to leave the country have become victims of this terrible act of cruelty.”
I strongly condemn the terrorist attack outside #Kabul airport. Innocent civilians trying to leave the country have become victims of this terrible act of cruelty. Our thoughts are with those affected, their families and loved ones. FM #EriksenSoreide pic.twitter.com/NIuVLkd21j
— Norway MFA (@NorwayMFA) August 26, 2021
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda condemned the “act of cowardice”.
“Poland stands with our US and Afghani friends,” he said.
Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde paid tribute to the US service members: “We are grateful for all your efforts in making this historic evacuation operation possible.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to work with partners to resettle refugees in his country.
“Our hearts break for the people of Afghanistan and the loved ones of the victims, including the brave women and men of our allies,” he said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “Our priority remains to evacuate as many people to safety as quickly as possible.”
Middle East nations
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry rejected the attacks as “incompatible with all religious principles and moral and human values”.
The ministry said it stood “with the Afghan people” and offered “condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the Afghan people”.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry deplored “this heinous attack in the strongest terms, offer our condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded.”
Egypt’s foreign ministry decried the “gruesome terrorism”, while Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned “a heinous terrorist act that contradicts all moral and humanitarian values and principles”.
“Civilians must be protected. @WHO is on the ground in #Afghanistan and ready to support health facilities to treat the wounded,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Appalled that vulnerable people are being exposed to further suffering in Kabul. Civilians must be protected. @WHO is on the ground in #Afghanistan and ready to support health facilities to treat the wounded.https://t.co/CgFZLw5BM2
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) August 26, 2021
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)