Washington, August 29 (CNN) – Another terrorist attack on Kabul’s airport is “highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” President Joe Biden said commanders have informed him, while hours later, the US Embassy in Kabul issued a security alert.
“Due to a specific, credible threat, all U.S. citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport (HKIA), including the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport, should leave the airport area immediately,” the alert read.
The President’s Saturday afternoon statement came hours after the Pentagon said two “high profile” ISIS targets were killed and another was injured in a US drone strike in Afghanistan, a retaliatory step following the terrorist attack that killed 13 US service members and at least 170 others outside the airport on Thursday.
“This strike was not the last,” Biden said in his statement. He vowed to “hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay.”
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” Biden said, adding that he has asked commanders to “take every possible measure to prioritize force protection.”The Pentagon addressed the drone strike earlier in the day.
Final days of the evacuation
Biden and his team are now bracing for the possibility of another terrorist attack in the final days of the evacuation operation.
The US Embassy in Kabul again on Friday advised US citizens at a number of gates at the airport to “leave immediately,” citing security threats, and Kirby announced Saturday that the US military has begun departing from the airport, but confirmed the August 31 departure deadline still stood.
“Make no mistake, nobody is writing this off and saying: ‘Well, we got them, so we don’t have to worry about ISIS-K anymore.’ Not the case. As I said earlier, the threat stream is still active, still dynamic. We’re still laser focused on that and force protection. We aren’t thinking for a minute that what happened yesterday gets us in the clear. Not a minute,” Kirby said Saturday.