United States President Joe Biden vowed to retaliate against Thursday’s attack in Kabul, saying that he will hunt down those responsible and make them pay.
Biden confirmed in a speech from the White House on Thursday that the bombings were carried out by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), ISIL’s affiliate in Afghanistan.
“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive; we will not forget,” Biden said.
“We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests in our people with every measure at my command
It is believed to be the most US troops killed in Afghanistan in a single incident since 30 personnel died when a helicopter was shot down in August 2011.
Biden added that the US will continue the evacuations of American citizens and US allies despite the attack. “We will not be deterred by terrorists; we will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuations,” he said.
American service members had not been killed in combat Afghanistan since February 2020.
Biden had postponed his engagements for the day, including a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, to focus on the situation in Afghanistan.
General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, confirmed earlier on Thursday that airlifts will not stop after the attack.
“Our mission is to evacuate US citizens, third-country nationals, Special Immigrant Visa holders, US embassy staff and Afghans at risk,” McKenzie said. “Despite this attack, we’re continuing the mission.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, the top US general, also said the American military remains “focused and steadfast on this mission”.
In Washington, politicians from both major parties condemned the attack, with Republicans taking aim at Biden over the withdrawal decision.
Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, called for Biden’s resignation.
“To say that today’s loss of American lives in Kabul is sickening does not begin to do justice to what has happened,” Hawley wrote on Twitter.