August 27 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Aditi Sangal, Jessie Yeung, Brad Lendon, Tara John, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0301 GMT (1101 HKT) August 31, 2021
30 Posts
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9:27 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Obama says he's "heartbroken" after attack in Kabul

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Former President Barack Obama released a statement Friday on the terrorist attack that killed more than 100 people, including 13 US service members, in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday. 

"Like so many of you, Michelle and I were heartbroken to hear about the terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport," Obama said in a written statement. "As president, nothing was more painful than grieving with the loved ones of Americans who gave their lives serving our country."

"As President Biden said, these service members are heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous, selfless mission to save the lives of others," Obama added. "May God bless the memory of those we lost, and protect those who remain in harm’s way."

9:27 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Few people seen around Kabul airport on Friday

From CNN’s Tim Lister

There are very few people gathering at Kabul airport on Friday following yesterday's attack, a journalist working with CNN who took a trip through the city on Friday reports.

People are not allowed to go to the main gate of the airport, the journalist said. Almost 500 yards before the main gate, the road is blocked by the Taliban who have parked their cars there, they added. 

The rest of the city is “calm,” with less traffic than on previous days.

All the main commercial centers are either closed or their business is very slow, the stringer reported. This is unsurprising because Friday marks the start of Afghanistan’s weekend.

9:03 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

About 2,500 Afghans en route to US from Jordan

From Hamdi Alkhshali

About 2,500 Afghans who arrived in Amman, Jordan, earlier this week are now en route to the United States, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Daifallah al-Fayez said.

“The Afghan nationals were not granted refugee status, as Jordan did not bear any burdens due to their crossing,” the spokesperson added.

The process of Afghans' crossing will continue until the end of this month, al-Fayez said.

8:59 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Afghan passports with Indian visas stolen from office in Kabul

From CNN’s Swati Gupta in New Delhi, India

The Indian government was forced to change its visa issuing policy for Afghan nationals fleeing the country after one of its offices in Kabul was raided and Afghan passports with Indian visa stamps were stolen.

Earlier this month, an outsourcing agency associated with the Indian embassy in Kabul was compromised, forcing the Indian government to issue a high alert for any illegal entries into India, according to Arindam Bagchi, official spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs.

“There were reports right in the beginning from Aug. 15 that once the security situation there deteriorated ... groups of people gained access to or raided one of our outsourcing agencies where Afghan passports with Indian visas were there. So, in the light of the loss of Afghan passports containing Indian visas, our authorities were in a state of high alert,” Bagchi said during a news conference Friday.

India has since then instituted an e-visa facility for any Afghan nationals who are looking to travel to India.

Meanwhile, India’s most recent evacuation flight out of Kabul was unable to collect all the passengers due to the deteriorating situation outside the airport, Bagchi confirmed.

The Indian government has evacuated more than 550 people out of Afghanistan, including embassy staff, Indians working in the country and Afghan nationals seeking refuge. Currently, none of the Afghan nationals have been provided with a status and are on a six-month temporary visa.

India also condemned Thursday's attack at Kabul airport.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this terrorist attack. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the injured. Today’s attacks reinforce the need for the world to stand unitedly against terrorism and all those who provide sanctuaries to terrorists," the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

8:49 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

WHO is trying to establish an air bridge into northern Afghanistan to bring in more medical supplies

From Hannah Ritchie

The World Health Organization (WHO) is trying to establish an air bridge into the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan in the coming days, with the help of Pakistan authorities, it said Friday. 

“We have only a few days of supplies left and are exploring all options to bring more medicines...Kabul airport is not an option at present, so we are likely to use Mazar-i-Sharif, with our first flight hopefully going in the next few days,” Rick Brennan, WHO's regional emergency director said at a United Nations briefing in Geneva.

Brennan said WHO's mission would rely heavily on the "support of the Pakistan government."

"One of the problems we have in Afghanistan right now is there is no civil aviation authority functioning. We are working with Pakistan, particularly in the context of Mazar-i-Sharif airport, because they can work with contacts on the ground on all the necessary steps needed to land a cargo aircraft," Brennan told the UN. 

Trauma kits, emergency supplies for hospitals and medicines for treating malnutrition will be among the priority items sent by WHO to Afghanistan.

Thirteen US service members and at least 90 Afghans were killed in the two bombings outside Kabul's airport Thursday, according to the Pentagon and Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health.

Brennan expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and said the situation in Afghanistan “remains volatile and tense.”

“While tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans are being evacuated through the air operation at Kabul airport, millions of vulnerable Afghans will remain behind — and we have a collective responsibility to continue to assist them,” Brennan told the briefing. 

WHO has staff in all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, and continues to monitor the health situation there, however Brennan warned that medical supplies were “rapidly running out.”

8:47 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

US Navy confirms sailor was among 13 service members killed in Kabul attack

From CNN's Barbara Starr

The explosion site near the Kabul airport is seen on August 27.
The explosion site near the Kabul airport is seen on August 27. (Chine Nouvelle/Sipa/Shutterstock)

The US Navy announced Friday that one sailor was killed in the terrorist attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul that left 13 US service members dead and 18 more injured.

 “We mourn the loss of this Sailor and we offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones of our fallen shipmate. The name of the Sailor will be released following 24 hours after notification of next of kin,” a Navy spokesperson said.

Ten Marines were among those killed in the attack, the Marine Corps announced Thursday evening.

8:12 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Italy will end its evacuation mission in Afghanistan 

From Hada Messia and Amy Cassidy

Italy’s evacuation mission in Afghanistan will end Friday, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has announced.

“In the next hours, with the conclusion of the airlift and evacuation of people, we conclude the first phase of emergency,” Di Maio said, speaking alongside his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Rome after the pair met for talks. 

“We need now to plan the second phase, looking beyond the date of Aug. 31 in order to put in place answers for the medium and long term that is a well-structured and orderly strategy. The Italian Foreign Ministry is already working in putting together a plan to help the Afghan people," he added. 

Italy’s focus — along with the international community, he said — should be on five priorities:

  • Protecting civilians
  • Safeguarding human rights
  • Guaranteeing humanitarian aid
  • Fighting terrorism
  • An “efficient management of the migration"
8:04 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Biden plans to contact families of US service members killed in Kabul airport attack

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House on August 26 in Washington, DC. 
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House on August 26 in Washington, DC.  (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Biden plans to contact the families of the 13 US service members who were killed in yesterday's attack on Kabul airport, according to a senior official.

Planning is underway for the President to make that outreach, but the White House is first working to ensure that next of kin notifications have taken place.

Biden addressed those families in his public remarks yesterday, saying "my heart aches for you."

We have some sense like many of you do what the families of these brave heroes are feeling today. You get this feeling like you're being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. There's no way out," Biden said.

"My heart aches for you, and I know this, we have a continuing obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you, to the families of those heroes. That obligation is not temporary, it lasts forever," he added.

8:29 a.m. ET, August 27, 2021

Here's what to know about ISIS-K, the terror group claiming to be behind the Kabul airport attack

From CNN's Rob Picheta

A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of the August 26 suicide bombs on August 27.
A Taliban fighter stands guard at the site of the August 26 suicide bombs on August 27. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images)

A terror group called ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing attacks outside Kabul airport on Thursday, that killed 13 US troops and more than 90 Afghans. The group provided no evidence to support the claim but US officials have said it was likely behind the atrocity.

While this was ISIS-K's most globally consequential action to date, it has been responsible for thousands of deaths since its 2015 formation. It launched 77 attacks just in the first four months of 2021, according to UN figures.

The group's full name, ISIS-Khorasan, comes from its terminology for the area that includes Afghanistan and Pakistan, and its members operate in central Asia. Counter-terrorism analysts estimate its strength now at around 1,500-2,000 members.

According to a US State Department report, the group relied heavily on suicide bombings -- the same tactic used in the Kabul airport blasts on Thursday.

In 2018, ISIS-K was ranked the world's fourth deadliest terror group, claiming more than 1,000 lives, mostly in Afghanistan, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace.

The connection between ISIS-K and its apparent parent group ISIS is not entirely clear; the affiliates share an ideology and tactics, but the depth of their relationship with regards to organization and command and control has never been entirely established.

Read a full report on the group's origins, area of operation and more here.