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Afghans waiting outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug. 26. Photo: Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United States will continue to evacuate people from Afghanistan after a terrorist bombing on Thursday killed 12 U.S. troops and an unknown number of Afghan civilians at the Kabul airport, Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said during a press conference.

Why it matters: The attack came just days before President Biden's full military withdrawal date of Aug. 31 and further complicated already-chaotic evacuation efforts.

The attack involved an explosion at the Abbey Gate entrance to the airport, McKenzie said.

  • The Taliban, who control the perimeter beyond the airport, condemned the attack and claimed it took place in an area where the U.S. was handling security.

What they're saying: “Despite this attack, we are continuing the mission," McKenzie said.

  • "Any time you build a non-combative evacuation plan like this, you bring in forces, you expect to be attacked. We thought this would happen sooner or later. It's tragic it happened today. It's tragic there was this much loss of life. We are prepared to continue the mission," he added.
  • McKenzie said 5,000 evacuees are ready for departure and there are "probably a little more than 1,000 American citizens left in Afghanistan."
  • McKenzie said at some point the military will have to draw down the evacuation flights to prepare equipment and troops for final departure, but he did not give a specific timeline for when the drawdown may begin.

The big picture: The Department of State on Wednesday night urged Americans not to travel to the airport and to leave immediately if they were gathered near the Abbey Gate, East Gate or North Gate. The department reiterated that warning after Thursday's explosion.

  • President Biden said on Tuesday that the U.S. and its allies were on pace to complete the evacuation mission by Aug. 31 but ordered the Pentagon and State Department to develop contingency plans "to adjust the timetable should that become necessary."

Go deeper: U.S. allies scramble to leave Afghanistan

Editor's note: This story has been updated and corrected to note that there was only one explosion, not a second one near the Baron Hotel as the Defense Department incorrectly announced Thursday.

Go deeper

Zalmay Khalilzad steps down as Afghanistan envoy

Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

Zalmay Khalilzad stepped down as special envoy for Afghanistan peace talks on Monday, two months after the Taliban seized control of Kabul in a disastrous conclusion to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: Khalilzad was the architect of the Trump administration's 2019 peace deal with the Taliban, which the head of U.S. Central Command called "the primary accelerant to lowering morale and general efficiency of the Afghan military."

1 hour ago - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% has received at least one dose.

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.