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US drone strike targets ISIS-K 'planner' in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US military said on Friday (Aug 27) it had carried out a drone strike against a “planner” of the Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliate that claimed credit for the deadly suicide bombing at Kabul airport.

“The unmanned air strike occurred in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. Initial indications are that we killed the target,” said Captain Bill Urban of the Central Command.

“We know of no civilian casualties,” he added in a statement announcing the first reported US strike since the attack.

The strike, launched from outside Afghanistan, came as the airlift of evacuees from Kabul airport continued under much-heightened security after Thursday’s attack.

At least 78 people were killed, including 13 US troops, when a suicide attacker exploded a bomb in the dense crowd in front of the airport’s Abbey Gate. Some media outlets reported that fatalities numbered close to 200. US officials said gunmen opened fire after the explosion, adding to the carnage. The attack was carried out by the violent Afghan arm of the ISIS terror group.

Following the attack, United States President Joe Biden vowed retaliation.

“To those who carried out this attack as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Mr Biden said on Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the military believed the group planned to strike the airlift again.

“We still believe there are credible threats… specific, credible threats,” he said.

The US Embassy in Kabul said in a security alert: “US citizens who are at the Abbey gate, East gate, North gate or the New Ministry of Interior gate now should leave immediately.”

It added: “Because of security threats at Kabul airport, we continue to advise US citizens to avoid travelling to the airport and to avoid airport gates.”

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