Christians and other vulnerable populations are being barred from government flights out of Kabul, Afghanistan, according to reports, as the situation in the country deteriorates. Thursday, suicide bombers staged two attacks near the Kabul airport, killing at least 72 people, including 12 U.S. service members, and wounding many more.
“Kabul is falling apart and our people are panicking,” Jason Jones told Catholic News Agency (CNA) in a statement published Wednesday, Aug. 25. Jones is a film producer and the director of The Vulnerable People Project, which is working to help evacuate refugees from Afghanistan. The United States’ withdrawal deadline is Aug. 31.
Said Jones, “The next 72 hours are going to be very dark. Kabul has descended into chaos and confusion and our citizens and friends are collapsing into despair. People are being contacted by the State Department and told to go to the airport only to be sent away.”
“I’ve started receiving panicked emails from Afghan Christians through their Western contacts,” said the Center for Religious Freedom’s Nina Shea. “They are not being allowed to board USG (U.S. government) flights in Kabul. I’m advising them to try to board Glenn Beck’s flights instead.”
Suicide Bombers Strike Kabul, Afghanistan
Thursday morning Pentagon press secretary John Kirby confirmed reports of an explosion outside of the Kabul airport. Later Kirby said, “We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate [an airport entrance] was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties. We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate. We will continue to update.”
Two suicide bombers, as well as some gunmen, were involved in the attack, which an anonymous U.S. official attributed to the Islamic State—a group more radical than the Taliban. As of this writing, at least 140 people are reported wounded and 72 dead, including 11 U.S. Marines and one Navy medic. U.S. service members are also counted among the wounded.
Prior to the attack, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, as well as the governments of several other western nations, warned citizens to stay away from the airport, and the Abbey Gate entrance specifically, due to intelligence reports of credible security threats.
Aid Groups Assist in Kabul, Afghanistan
With only days left until the evacuation deadline, a variety of aid groups have been working to rescue people from Afghanistan.