A day after US President Joe Biden promised retribution against ISIS-K for the carnage at the Kabul airport, the mastermind who planned the attack was killed in a drone strike on Saturday. “Initial indications are that we killed the target,” said Navy Capt Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Central Command that oversees US forces in West Asia and Afghanistan, without naming the militant leader.
He added that it was an ‘over-the-horizon’ strike, meaning the drone was sent from a site outside Afghanistan. There were no known civilian casualties, he said in a statement, adding that the airstrike took place in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.
The Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate, dubbed ISIS-K, had claimed responsibility for the attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday, which according to various reports, killed as many as 200 and injured an equal number of people.
On Friday, Biden had said, “To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm notice, we will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. Later, White House spokesperson said the statement meant Biden does not want those who planned the terror attack to live any longer.
On its part, the Taliban said they have arrested some suspects involved in the airport blast. On Saturday, the militia deployed extra forces around the Kabul airport to prevent large crowds from gathering. They have also put up new checkpoints on roads leading to the airport.
Meanwhile, the US flagged a high risk of further blasts as it winds up its mission to evacuate civilians and withdraw troops. Yet another attack against the Kabul airport is a near certainty, Reuters reported quoting US officials who warned it could be more destructive than Thursday’s.