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Biden warns of another terror attack at Kabul airport as US troops start pulling out

Biden warns of another terror attack at Kabul airport as US troops start pulling out

President Joe Biden on Sunday warned that another terrorist attack was highly likely at the Kabul airport as the US troops started withdrawing to meet the Aug 1 deadline for leaving Afghanistan.

"The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high," Biden said.

"Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours."

The US embassy in Kabul later released an alert warning of credible threats at specific areas of the airport, including access gates.

Also read:  Last CIA base in Kabul destroyed

A U.S. official told Reuters on Saturday there were fewer than 4,000 troops left at the airport, down from 5,800 at the peak of the evacuation mission.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby confirmed that the withdrawal of troops had begun at a press briefing in Washington but refused to disclose any numbers.

The massive US-led airlift has evacuated more than 112,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15 in a lightning move that caught everyone by surprise.

However, with the focus now shifting to evacuating military equipment and personnel, the number of civilians that can be accommodated on these flights has come down. The worst fears of the NATO allies that thousands may be left behind if Biden sticks to the August 31 deadline appear to be coming true.

The deadly suicide bombing carried out by the Islamic State terror group that killed over 100 people including 13 US troops has slowed down the evacuation process for civilians further as it is not easy to reach the airport.

The Pentagon said Saturday retaliation drone strikes had killed two "high-level" ISIS-K facilitators and planners for terror operations in eastern Afghanistan bordering Pakistan

Biden said Friday's strike was not the last. "We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay," he said.

Taliban angry over drone strike

Meanwhile, the Taliban criticised the U.S. drone strike. "The Americans should have informed us before conducting the air strike. It was a clear attack on Afghan territory," a Taliban spokesman told Reuters, adding that two women and a child were wounded in the attack.

The Taliban have said they have arrested some suspects involved in the airport blast.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also said the Taliban would take over the airport "very soon", after U.S. forces withdraw, and announce a full cabinet in the coming days.