By Nehru Odeh
Making good its threat to retaliate the death of scores of US soldiers and Afghans via two suicide bomb attacks outside Kabul International airport, the US has killed a planner of the Afghan branch of the Islamic group in a drone strike in the east of Afghanistan.
The suspected member of the IS-K group was targeted in Nangarhar Province. A Reaper drone, launched from the Middle East, struck the militant while he was in a car with another IS member, killing them both, an official told Reuters news agency. The US said there were no civilian casualties.
The strike came amid fears that that IS planning to strike again as the U.S.-led evacuation from Kabul airport moved into its final days. Biden has set Tuesday as his deadline for completing the exit.
Recall that IS-K claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attacks outside Kabul airport, which left at least 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers dead. In an interactive session with journalists few hours after the suicide bomb attacks, emotion-laden President Joe Biden vowed to retaliate the attacks.
“We will not forgive, we will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden warned the perpetrators on Friday. The US drone strike is the first reported in Afghanistan since Thursday’s blast.
Capt Bill Urban of Central Command said: “The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties.” He described it as an “over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation”.
Roughly 5,000 US troops are still stationed at Kabul airport, processing people desperate to leave. “We are providing swift passage to every foreigner to leave Afghanistan in the next 48 hours,” an unnamed Western official told Reuters.
Taliban officials say they have taken control of parts of the airport but the US says its forces are still in charge.