Security

World leaders condemn 'heinous' Kabul attacks

By Salaam Times and AFP

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Volunteers and medical staff bring an injured man for treatment after two powerful explosions outside Kabul airport on August 26 killed more than 85 people and left dozens more wounded. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

World leaders from east and west have expressed shock and outrage in the aftermath of two deadly suicide bombings that on Thursday (August 26) left more than 85 Afghan civilians and US service members dead at Kabul's airport.

Two powerful explosions rocked Kabul airport at dusk Thursday, where US forces were protecting and processing a large number of Afghans who were waiting to be evacuated.

The Khorasan branch of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS-K) later claimed responsibility for the carnage in a post on its propaganda outlet Amaq.

A first bomb exploded near Abbey Gate, the airport's main entrance, with a second exploding within minutes from the first near the Baron Hotel, which was being used as an evacuation staging point.

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and others gather for a UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on August 16 in New York. [Timothy A. Clary/AFP]

Airlifts had resumed by Friday, with US President Joe Biden stressing that the United States would not be deterred from its mission to evacuate civilians, and would stick to its August 31 deadline of withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan.

'Act of cowardice'

Immediately after the attack, messages of condolence began to pour in from around the world, with many leaders denouncing the violence as "despicable".

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as "barbaric".

"We will not let the cowardly acts of terrorists stop us," said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, noting that British personnel are working hard even "under fire" to complete airlifts out of Afghanistan.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to see the evacuations "through to the end" and saluted "the heroism of those who are on the ground to carry out the evacuation operations".

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said his country's forces are making efforts to evacuate as many people as possible.

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".

Polish President Andrzej Duda condemned the "act of cowardice".

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde paid tribute to the US service members, saying: "We are grateful for all your efforts in making this historic evacuation operation possible."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to work with partners to resettle refugees in his country.

African Union Commission (AUC) chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said the AUC condemned the attack in the "strongest terms" and "joins the world in prayer & deep sorrow for the innocent lives lost in yesterday's horrific terrorist attacks".

"Terrorism threatens our common humanity everywhere," he said on Twitter.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said his organisation's priority is evacuating "as many people to safety as quickly as possible".

'Heinous terrorist act'

The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) condemned the "twin heinous terrorist bombings".

OIC secretary general Yousef al-Othaimeen in a statement "reaffirmed the OIC's firm, principled position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations".

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 meanwhile said it deplores "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 Foreign Ministry also condemned the "heinous terrorist act that contradicts all moral and humanitarian values and principles".

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh strongly condemned the attacks on civilians, especially when women and children were among them.

"Civilians must be protected," the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Twitter, noting that its personnel are on the ground in Afghanistan "and ready to support health facilities to treat the wounded".

Security Council permanent members to meet

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres also condemned Thursday's bombings.

In a statement, he said, "This incident underscores the volatility of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan but also strengthens our resolve as we continue to deliver urgent assistance across the country in support of the Afghan people."

Guterres has called for an urgent meeting of the five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council for Monday, issuing an invitation to the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, diplomats told AFP.

All five are expected to join, diplomatic sources said. The meeting will not include the current 10 non-permanent members.

The full Security Council held an emergency meeting on Afghanistan on August 16, a day after the Taliban swept to power in the country.

The 15-member council issued a joint statement after Guterres told the meeting that the world must unite to combat the "global terrorist threat in Afghanistan".

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