Afghanistan

Kabul airport bombing: Biden speaks after US troops among those killed

Two explosions in the Afghan capital have killed dozens and injured hundreds but US officials have vowed to continue the evacuation mission.

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Kabul airport bombing: Biden speaks after US troops among those killed
Jim Watson AFP

Why was President Biden speaking?

Two powerful explosions rocked the Afghan capital this evening; one at the gates of the airport and another in the center of the city. The Islamic State Khorasan province (ISIK) has claimed responsibility for the attacks and dozens of US and Afghans dead. 90 Afghans have died so far and 12 US troops.

What did the president say?

"A group known as ISIS-K took the lives of US service members standing guard at Kabul airport."

"These American service members who gave their lives are heroes. Heroes who have been engaged in a dangerous and selfless mission to save the lives of others. They are part of an evacuation and airlift unlike any that has been seen in history."

"A hundred thousand... have been taken to safety in the last 12 days. In the last 12 hours seven thousand have got out."

"Our hearts ache for all those Afghan families who have lost young ones, or have been wounded in this vicious attack. They are outraged as well as hurt."

"[Joe and Jill Biden] have some sense like you do of what these families are feeling today, it's like a black hole in the middle of your chest. There's no way out. My heart aches for you. And I know this. We have a continued, sacred obligation to all of you that lasts forever."

"The lives we lost today were lives lost given in the service of security, given in the service of liberty, given in the service of others, given in the service of America. Their fellow brothers and sisters who have fallen this day are part of a great noble company of American heroes."

"For those who carried out the attack today, and those who wish to do America harm know this. We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure in my command."

"This mission is extraordinarily dangerous. That is why the mission is limited. The mission is designed to operate under severe stress and demand. The commanders on the ground have made it clear that we must complete this mission, and we will."

"We will not be deterred by terrorists. Our mission will go on."

America will not be intimidated, and I have the utmost confidence in our brave service members as they continue to exercise this mission to save our people our partners our afghan allies out of Afghanistan. There has been complete unanimity in the mission and how to achieve it."

"Our service members are volunteering to go in harms way to risk everything. Not for glory, not for profit but to defend what we love and the people we love."

[The president then stopped for a moment of silence.]

God protect you all and those troops who have given so much for America.

The president's response to questions

About additional forces being sent after the attacks

"Whatever the military needs, be it additional force, I will grant it."

"But commanders have all contact me saying they subscribe to the mission as designed... in the timeline allotted."

"After the evacuation we will be in a circumstance we will be in a position to offer additional access to help people to get out of Afghanistan. This includes working with the Taliban... they have wanted to keep the airport open."

"There is a lot of reasons why they have reached out as it is in their interests to get our personnel out."

About the Afghans who may not be able to get out by August 31

"We will continue to try to get them out. I know of no conflict where when a war has ended one side was able to guarantee that everyone they wanted to be extracted from that country would be able to get out.

"There are, I would argue, millions of afghan citizens who are not Taliban, who did not collaborate with us, who want to be given a chance to board a plane tomorrow. A lot of communities want to come to America. Getting every person out can't be guaranteed."

About whether it was safe to trust Taliban security in Kabul

"No-one trusts them. We're just counting on their self-interest to continue to generate their activities," says the president.

"It's in their self-interest that we leave when we said, and that we get as many people out as we can."

He also says he has reason to know who the attackers are, adding "we will get them".

About the undertaking of the evacuation

"I think people think there is a likelihood to get hurt, people have been killed. And that it is messy. The reason why there are no attacks on Americans before I came into office was because a commitment was made by President Trump 'I will be out by May 1st, don't attack any Americans.'"

"Imagine where we would be if I had indicated that I had indicated that I would not renegotiate evacuation day, and we were going to stay there. I had only one more alternative. Pump thousands of more troops back in there to fight a war that we had relatively won."

"We should not be sacrificing American lives to create a democratic government in Afghanistan that has never in its history been a united country that is made up of different tribes that have never gotten along with one another."

"Our interest in going was to prevent al-Qaeda from growing and to wipe out Osama bin Laden."

"We have greater threats coming out of other countries a heck of a lot closer to the United States."

"Ladies and gentlemen it was time to end a 20-year war."