Ever since the attack on the Kabul airport on Friday, the White House, Pentagon, and State Department have all been warning of another “imminent” attack on Americans at the airport. On Sunday, a U.S. drone struck a vehicle carrying suicide bombers who were reportedly going to target the Kabul airport. The drone strike came after a rocket attack on a residential Kabul neighborhood killed a small child.
U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Urban, the CENTCOM spokesman, said: “We are confident we successfully hit the target. Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”
The Taliban says the vehicle was a truck bomb that the U.S. drone hit before it could reach the airport.
Reporting from Kabul, FRANCE 24’s Cyril Payen said the strike appeared to have occurred in area just north of the Kabul military airport.
“It was a huge blast,” he said. “The suicide bomber was in a [bomb-laden] car, meaning the explosive charge was enormous.”.
“At first we were thinking it was a blast that had been expected all day – a bomb attack by the IS group in central Asia (IS-K) – but it was later confirmed by the Pentagon that it was a drone targeting a kamikaze driving towards one of the gates of the military airport.”
The France 24 correspondent points out that it’s likely the U.S. could not have successfully targeted the vehicle without assistance from the Taliban.
“What is also interesting is that it shows that there is actually cooperation now with the former [US] enemy. This strike wouldn’t have been possible without some information given by the Taliban who are themselves trying to secure not only Kabul but also the airport.”
Television footage showed black smoke rising into the sky, but there was no immediate word on any casualties.
The US strike took place while about 1,000 civilians waited at the airport to be flown out before the last troops leave, a Western security official told Reuters.
The last thing the Taliban wants is for ISIS to give Joe Biden any excuse for hanging around, although a blast at the airport would likely have hit few Americans given that almost all U.S. troops and civilians who could leave Afghanistan have already left.
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Another tragedy may have been avoided — for the moment. But it’s encouraging that the airport appears to be more secure.