New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

The U.S. military strikes back at the Islamic State in Afghanista­n.


The United States military struck back at the Islamic State on Saturday, bombing an IS member in Afghanista­n less than 48 hours after a devastatin­g suicide bombing claimed by the group killed as many as 169 Afghans and 13 American service members at the Kabul airport.

U.S. Central Command said the U.S. conducted a drone strike against an Islamic State member in Nangahar believed to be involved in planning attacks against the U.S. in Kabul. The strike killed one individual, and spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban said they knew of no civilian casualties.

It wasn’t clear if that individual was involved specifical­ly in the Thursday suicide blast outside the gates of the Kabul airport, where crowds of Afghans were desperatel­y trying to get in as part of the ongoing evacuation from the country after the Taliban’s rapid takeover.

The airstrike fulfilled a vow President Joe Biden made to the nation Thursday when he said the perpetrato­rs of the attack would not be able to hide. “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said. Pentagon leaders told reporters Friday that they were prepared for whatever retaliator­y action the president ordered.

“We have options there right now,” said Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

The president was warned Friday to expect another lethal attack in the closing days of a frantic U.S.-led evacuation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s national security team offered a grim outlook.

“They advised the president and vice president that another terror attack in Kabul is likely, but that they are taking maximum force protection measures at the Kabul airport,” Psaki said, echoing what the Pentagon has been saying since the bombing Thursday at Kabul airport that pushed the White House deeper into crisis over a chaotic and deadly conclusion to a war that began nearly 20 years ago.

Late Friday, the State Department again urged Americans to stay away from airport gates, including “the New Ministry of Interior gate.”

Few new details about the attack emerged a day later, but the Pentagon corrected its initial report that there had been suicide bombings at two locations. It said there was just one — at or near the Abbey Gate, followed by gunfire. The report of a second bombing at a nearby hotel proved to be false, said Maj.

Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff; he attributed the mistake to initial confusion.

Based on a preliminar­y assessment, U.S. officials believe the suicide vest used in the attack, which killed at least 169 Afghans in addition to the 13 Americans, carried about 25 pounds of explosives and was loaded with shrapnel, a U.S. official said Friday.

Biden said in an address to the nation after the attack that the perpetrato­rs cannot hide, and he vowed to strike back at the Islamic State group’s Afghanista­n affiliate. “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said.

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