The first blast happened near the Abbey Gate, where US and British forces have been checking people entering the airport, followed by a second minutes later at a hotel which was used by British officials to process Afghans hoping to travel to the UK.
Survivors described the horror in the wake of the attack, with one saying they saw “bodies and body parts flying in the air like a tornado blowing plastic bags”.
Another recounted how they tried to take an injured baby to safety, only for the child to die in their arms. Pictures being shared on social media suggest families have lost several members.
Hospitals were quickly overwhelmed with the injured. Alberto Zanin, the medical director of one facility run by Italian NGO Emergency, described on Twitter how the victims “could not speak, many were terrified, their eyes totally lost in emptiness, their gaze blank”. Thirteen US troops were among those killed – the first US military casualties in Afghanistan since February 2020.
Mr Biden said the troops who had died “were heroes who were on a selfless mission to save the lives of others”.
The head of US Central Command, Gen Frank McKenzie, said the threat from IS-K remained high and US forces were working with Taliban to try to stop further attacks and that the Taliban had already prevented many.
Map showing locations of the blasts But the attack is likely to significantly complicate the evacuation effort ahead of the deadline.
There are currently 5,800 US troops on the ground at Kabul airport with a further 1,000 UK troops also there.
To date, 104,000 civilians have been transferred from Afghanistan, including 66,000 by the US and 37,000 by allies and partners.About 5,000 people are waiting at the airport and many more are still trying to get through the perimeter checkpoints.
A number of countries, including Canada, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark had already stopped their operations. Turkey has announced that its troops, who had been providing security at the airport for six years, were withdrawing.