The U.S. military said on Friday night that it had launched its first reprisal strike for the devastating suicide bombing at Kabul’s airport the day before, using a drone to target and apparently kill a planner for the group that claimed responsibility for the deaths of as many as 170 civilians and 13 U.S. service members.
“U.S. military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner,” Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, also known as Islamic State Khorasan.
“The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan,” Captain Urban said. “Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties.”
The attack at the airport on Thursday was one of the deadliest bombings in the nearly two decades since the U.S.-led invasion. American officials believe “another terror attack in Kabul is likely,” the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said on Friday afternoon. “The threat is ongoing and it is active. Our troops are still in danger.”
On Friday night, the U.S. Embassy again warned Americans to leave the airport immediately because of security threats.
While it was unclear how many Americans had risked the trip to the airport on Friday, the dangers of another terrorist strike did not keep away Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban.
Hundreds of them continued to crowd Kabul’s airport on Friday, even as the death toll from the previous day’s blast neared 200 with hundreds more wounded, keeping the city’s hospitals grimly busy all day.
The size of the crowd at the airport did drop sharply, however, with
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