KABUL: Three children were killed in a drone strike on Sunday that the US said killed an Islamic State suicide car bomber suspected of preparing to attack the Kabul airport, the Associated Press reported citing an Afghan official. The AP said the Afghan official spoke on the condition of anonymity over security concerns.
According to officials, a US drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying 'multiple suicide bombers' from Afghanistan's Islamic State affiliate on Sunday before they could attack the ongoing military evacuation at Kabul's international airport. The strike was the second carried out by US forces in Afghanistan since an Islamic State suicide bomber struck the airport on Thursday, killing 13 US troops and scores of Afghan civilians trying to flee the country.
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Two US military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations, called the airstrike successful and said the vehicle carried multiple bombers.
US navy Captain Bill Urban, a military spokesperson, said the strike was carried out in 'self-defence' and that the military was investigating whether there were civilian casualties but that 'we have no indications at this time.'
'We are confident we successfully hit the target. Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material,' Urban said.
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Sunday's drone strike came just two days before the US is set to withdraw the last of its troops, ending America's longest war.
Meanwhile, the US state department said in a statement signed by around 100 countries, as well as Nato and the European Union, that they received 'assurances' from the Taliban that people with travel documents would still be able to leave the country. The Taliban have said they will allow normal travel after the US withdrawal is completed on Tuesday and they assume control of the airport.
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US President Joe Biden vowed to keep up the airstrikes, saying on Saturday that another attack was 'highly likely' as the state department called the threat 'specific' and 'credible.'
The Taliban have increased security around the airport after Thursday's attack, clearing away the large crowds that had gathered outside the gates hoping to join the airlift.
Tens of thousands of Afghans are trying to flee Afghanistan since the Taliban's rapid takeover earlier this month, fearing reprisals and a return to the harsh form of Islamic rule the group imposed by the group from 1996 to 2001.
The Taliban have pledged amnesty for all Afghans, even those who worked with the US and its allies. But many Afghans are sceptical about the assurances and there have been reports of executions and other human rights abuses in areas under the Taliban.