The United States has announced that it carried out a drone strike in eastern Afghanistan against a “planner” of an ISIL-affiliated group, a day after an attack outside Kabul’s airport that killed at least 175 people and 13 US troops
“The unmanned airstrike 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,” he added in a statement announcing the first reported US strike since the attack.
Thursday’s attack was claimed by ISIL (ISIS) offshoot in Afghanistan – the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (also known as ISIS-K).
The news comes as the US forces helping to evacuate Afghans desperate to flee Taliban rule issued an alert on Saturday of possible attacks at Kabul airport.
The US Embassy in Kabul also warned Americans who remain in Afghanistan to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport gates “immediately” citing security threats.
Earlier, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that the US believed there are still “specific, credible” threats against the airport.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kabul, said evacuations have resumed.
“We have seen a number of planes take off. The number of people around the airport has grown dramatically since yesterday,” he said.
Report: US strike carried out to prevent future ISIS-K attacks
A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters news agency that the US drone strike was against an ISIL-affiliated group planning “future attacks”.
A reaper drone, which took off from the Middle East, reportedly struck target while he was in a car with another associate, the official said.
Both are believed to have been killed, the official added.
Thursday’s attack at Kabul airport was claimed by ISIL (ISIS) offshoot in Afghanistan – the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (also known as ISIS-K).
Most of new Afghan refugees ‘likely’ to end up in Iran, Pakistan
Most of the new Afghan refugees fleeing the country following the takeover of the Taliban are likely to end up in Iran and Pakistan, a refugee group said.
Hardin Lang of Refugees International in the US told Al Jazeera on Saturday that “very difficult weeks and months are coming ahead” for the refugees as they try to escape the country.
He pointed out that Iran and Pakistan already host 2.2 million refugees from Afghanistan before the current crisis erupted.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR earlier said that up to half a million Afghans could flee in a “worst-case scenario”.