Skip to main content

tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  August 26, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PDT

8:00 am
works. if the hope is for them to be a reasonable partner for afghan allies, other members of former of the afghan government or the u.s., that one indication there. i'm jim sciutto. thank you for being with us. that is flick robertson with me there. "at this hour" will start now. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, i'm kate bolduan. we're continuing this follow the major breaking news in afghanistan. there has been an explosion outside of kabul airport. officials also say this appears to be a suicide attack. let's be clear. this is still unfolding and there are many questions and things are still very fluid right now. we don't know who is behind the
8:01 am
explosion. but the u.s. officials have been warning about a credible imminent and compelling, that is how they put it, threat from isis-k for days now. the u.s. embassy in kabul just 30 minutes ago issued a new warning to u.s. citizens near the airport. essentially the message is very clear. leave immediately. let's get to it. barbara starr is live at pentagon. barbara, what are you hearing right now? >> well just a few moments ago the pentagon confirmed there has been a second explosion. we don't know yet if any potential fatalities or wounded. either among u.s. personnel or afghans were there are a result of the first or second explosion. let me say separately, defense official with knowledge of the situation tells me that they are bracing for more and that is exactly what you would expect from the u.s. military in a situation like this. they will take all measures to protect themselves anticipating
8:02 am
there could be more attacks. that is just common sense. there are some u.s. personnel injured in this attack. that is the only details we have at this point. the pentagon has not said where they are military and what branch and whether they may be state department or personnel working for other parts of the u.s. government. we know very much that there are u.s. families out there watching this, afghan families watching this who are going to be very concerned about their loved ones. also no claim of responsible just yet. that we are aware of. as you said, isis in afghanistan has been threatening an attack, the u.s. believes there has been very strong stream of intelligence sug-- suggesting t would conduct a suicide attack and they are the hallmark of any number of terrorist groups that
8:03 am
operation in the region. so very early word about all of this. the pentagon, the defense department, the intelligence community, the white house trying to put all of the pieces together, to try to determine what has happened and trying to move very quickly to take care of those who may be injured, kate. >> and just as you were reporting and just as you're reporting we have a new statement from the pentagon press secretary john kirby. we could confirm that the explosion at the abby gate was the result of a complex attack that results in a number of u.s. and civilian kcasualties and we could confirm one or more explosions a short distance from abby gate. we'll continue to update. confirming what you were just reporting, barbara. >> right. there had been some very early word of multiple explosions. and complex attack. we don't know but this is often
8:04 am
the beginning of the language you see from the u.s. government that sug a suicide vest potentially a car bomb, a sniper, these are the hallmarks of the groups for so many years. they stage the complex attacks, if you will, sometimes there are very tragically a first explosion that gets people running, and then they set off something else. that is kind of a hallmark of what happens. so i want to emphasize, we don't have the specific information here. but this kind of complex attack is exactly what has been worrying the biden administration for the last several days. and is exactly the reason that the u.s. forces at the airport, some 5,000 plus of them will very much be in a mode of protection for themselves and for each other doing whatever they can to protect the afghans on the airfield trying to continue flights if they can.
8:05 am
not at all clear what the pace of activity may be. they still have, by their own calculations, a significant number of american citizens, passport holders, that they will try and bring in. they try and bring in any afghans if they are able to. but the priority now in these final days has been to bring americans into the gate, get them on flights and get them out of there and then very quickly the u.s. military has to shift to packing itself up and being ready to go. it is tuesday, just we're beginning to move from counting the days to counting the hours, aren't we, before the u.s. has to be packed up and gone. kate. >> barbara, with the latest breaking information now. a second explosion as confirmed from the pentagon press secretary. barbara, please stick close. nick paton walsh is live in doha
8:06 am
qatar. you were talking about last hour that the second explosion according to the pentagon is at or near the baron hotel? >> this is essentially the same place. and so we are talking about as they said a complex attack. so not just two explosions. there are reports of gunfire. the order nair response to security guards hearing something like that. the abbey gates, this is the main gates over the past few days into which people limb itsed as they were have been trying to get into the airport. it has been often suecured by u.s. military personnel but outside there are intense crowds. i saw a video yesterday of a mix of u.s. and u.k. service men walking up and down razor war and below them were afghans on
8:07 am
the bank holding up pieces of paper and proof they had to make their case, that they thought, that they should be allowed to be part of the siv program. and packed together and that increases in density. a very desperate people trying to get in. it is, i have to say, given what we're hearing about this, quite likely that a dense crowd like that may have been in fact the target. quite how u.s. personnel who we hear from the important were also injured too ended up into that is unclear. did an initial part of the attack draw them out, were they trying to assist people who were caught in the first explosion, and then another one came. we simply don't know at this stage. but certainly the scene there means certainly judging from some of the pictures you've been playing as well over the past half hour or so, we're dealing with a densely packed area, different casualties who could be behind this in afghanistan you can't count on a claim of
8:08 am
responsibility. isis do step forward and say this was them and they're swosworn enemies of the taliban and al qaeda too. and many other extremist groups there too. so that is all i'm sure something they're working feverishly on now to see how sustained the threat may be. but the notion of a secondary explosion at the bar ron hotel will suggest a lit of culprits able to pull something like that off. the baron was where the british were based. they were reducing their presence if not departing today and of course the security risk to troops and situations like that is always during the withdraw phase, when they are able to defend themselves. we simply don't know if that played into this. but with this evacuation still hoping to go on at some pace, our understanding until the weekend, but reporting from the pentagon, they hope to carry on
8:09 am
even longer than that if we wanted in this security environment which is already restricting what they felt they were able to do. i'm sure that we'll have to be a reassessment as to how the gate should be closed for the day and what other operations they are able to do in this now frankly massively changed security environment. there were warnings and fears this could happen. the humanitarian job they were doing was so desperate, so urgent and the soldiers standing there in front of crowds with desperate people brandishing of proof they've been of use over the last 20 years and what some warnl have happened have occurred and it will strike fear in the hearts of anybody trying to get into the airport and remind many afghans too of the dozens of previous attacks like this we've reported on over the last ten, 20 years. random, awful, terrorist violence against civilian masses
8:10 am
of people is not daily, but a weekly reality for so many afghans. and here we have this awful scene which appears to have injured u.s. personnel as well and will have an impact on quite how the next few days the closing chapter of america's longest war plays out but it is horrifying to have this incident so warned of come to fruition. >> absolutely. it is a true nightmare scenario. nick, we've been showing as you've been talking a map that is helpful of the lay out of the airport, and the airfield and what is a corridor, an alleyway that becomes a choke point into the airport as you're getting to a prime target for a terror attack. has been warned an warned over and over again in the last couple of days. >> it is awful to start thinking about precisely think being
8:11 am
where a target site could have been. but it is this thin corridor of humanity where we've seen people crushed in together and a difficult job for the british soldiers to orchestrate the crowd. there have been crushes there when the u.s. military said claimed seven lives five or six days ago now. it has been awful scenes. and this baron hotel was the filtration point before people got on to the airport proper. many afghans who have through there, it is very hard to get into the airport compound because of the intense security. the vetting. u.s. marines often left to fire in the air at times over my head at one point to get the crowd to come down and move back. one source i spoke to said so much more process would be possible but had the crowd been calmer, but as you're pushing up against the high ten foot tall metal gates as people are all trying to surge forward and make their case.
8:12 am
abbey gate, and at risk was the northeast gate. that is where i was at one point briefly too. very tight crowds then there and then elsewhere an area in which afghan security forces have allowed some of their friends and colleagues sneak in. abbey gate, because of the dense series of walls that go along the side of it and the limitations put in place by the sewage canal that run as long part of it, a very terrifying target and one where simply the crowd put people at risk and now it appears we have into that two separate explosions. unclear if this is two bombs or how at tack unfolded. reports of gunfire at the same time as we just saw from a important spokesperson john kirby, this is a referred to as a complex attack and that makes the list of potential suspects smaller. but it is afghanistan and there are many extremists potentially go to go around. the threat stream as u.s. officials have said was from isis-k and we'll have to see how they sort of calculate and grind
8:13 am
that in the day as head. but i have to say, so many afghans i have spoken to terrified this could happen. sort of their desperation to get on to the airport. kind of overrid the daily threat with terrorism in their daily lives and have done for a decade, particularly in kabul. but it strikes a chill for me frankly hearing that this is happened. >> i want to re-set. stick with me. and to bring everyone up to speed with the latest update we've received from john kirby. more information, more questions. the pentagon spokesperson saying that we could confirm that the explosion at the abbey gate which we first heard around 9:45 this morning was a result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of u.s. and civilian casualties an said they could confirm one other explosion as we've been discussing with nick paton walsh at or near the baron hotel which is close to the abbey gate. we're waiting, john kirby is
8:14 am
updating via twitter. there is supposed to be a pentagon briefing at 10:30. as with everything on the ground has changed and what is going on with the administration right now has changed. let's get over to kylie atwood at the state department. what are you hearing from there? >> reporter: two bits of new news in the tweet from spokesperson john kirby. first of all, this is a complex, in his words, attack. that demonstrates this wasn't just a one-off but many multiple parts to it. and saying there were two at least two explosions. there could have been more. this is clearly an unfolding situation. we're talking to the sources closely monitoring it but it is significant to note that the state department put out an alert to all american citizens saying there was an explosion and saying there were reports of gunfire. so clearly this isn't just the explosions but there are gunfire
8:15 am
happening. also, important spokesperson said that one of the explosions happening at the abbey gate. it is significant because that is one of the main gates, the main artery into the airport. where a tremendous number of afghans had been growing in crowds trying to get into that airport, trying to get on these flights. and as we've seen from the early images of what unfolded there, there are afghans who were hurt. we are reporting that there are afghans who died as a result of this explosion. now, abbey gate is one of the gates that the state department said just yesterday that american citizens should not go to. there were some imminent threats in the area and told americans not to go to the airport specifically listing abbey gate at one of those. and as we're watching what is unfolding, questions are going to arise about how does the evacuation continue? we know that there are still americans on the ground in afghanistan as of yesterday,
8:16 am
there were between 500 and 1500, presumably some got out overnight. but what does this marine for the americans on ground and we are looking to learn more information about these casualties that john kirby said include both americans and civilians on the ground there. but a tremendously sad, really awful situation for these afghans who have been putting their lives on the line to try and get through these gates, to try and get on these evacuation flights and we know that the u.s. government had been monitoring these terrorist threats in the region specifically against those who were in those crowds outside of the airport. we're seeing this now come to fruition. but this is a quick developing story and a lot more details to figure out, specifically about who was among those casualties and americans and afghans. >> kylie, thank you so much. i want to go to kaitlan at white
8:17 am
house. what are you hearing about this. >> reporter: right now the president is in the situation room. getting intelligence about who was involved in the attacks and who was been injured and what are the potential fatalities and that is still information that the white house is getting as the president is huddling with his defense secretary and his secretary of state and the chairman of the join chiefs of staff who were all here at the white house this morning briefing president biden around 9:15 in the situation room and monitoring this attack that the president has been warning was possible since last friday. and saying that this was a fear that they had, that the longer the united states military was in kabul, the higher the risk of an attack would become. and this is already causing some several changes here to this schedule at the white house because there was supposed to be a covid update by that team around 10:30. they have delays that. and in 15 minutes we're to see president biden meeting with the israeli prime minister in the oval office and that is been
8:18 am
delayed and there is supposed to be a noon briefing with jen psaki. i'm guessing that is going to be delayed given they're monitoring all of the developments. the question about what changes with the withdrawal is a big one. that is what the white house is still figuring out right now because that is one of the main reasons that president biden did not want to extend the deadline because they were worried about the security situation. they updated the security warning to united states citizens at kabul telling them to get away from the gates at the airport. and these are the crowded gates we've seen on television. president biden is continuing to monitor this. i assume we'll hear from him but a lot is fluid over in the west wing as they are continuing to monitor this and find out what is happened on the ground and of
8:19 am
course what the result of this is and of main concern for the president is what and how this effected the u.s. service members who were still there on the ground by the thousands. >> how this changes the evacuation now on the ground at that airport, kaitlan will bring us the updates. i want to get back to do ha and sam you just left kabul airport yesterday and we have learned that there are u.s. and civilian casualties as the pentagon has confirmed and announced. what type of medical capabilities are there at the airport? >> reporter: well, there are the expedition capabilities and the u.s. has a thousand troops an the brits have come in with a thousand. they all travel with their airborne medical facilities and also there is the norwegian military hospital structured on the the base that has four icu
8:20 am
beds and had cat scanners and almost all of the modern technology that you would need in a major hospital but on a smaller scale. so in terms of the treatment of any possible casualties, military casualties, they're pretty well set up. most of the casualties clearly from the images we've been seeing on social media are on the ground outside of the camp, dlipgtly targeted in this terrorist attack which has been flagged for sometime, kate. and indeed, we were on the the camp last sunday when the first attack against the camp was conducted. that was a sniper who opened fire, killing a member of the afghan national army, part of the inner perimeter of the coalition. and then there was an ex change of fire in which four more were accidentally wounded by coalition troops. seen in the context of this later attack, that was clearly some sort of probing attack to see what is called ttp's, the
8:21 am
standard procedures used in reaction to violence. and this clearly has been the combination. now we have two bombs at least now confirmed by the pentagon. one in a very narrow street up towards the abbey gate. there is a canal and then there is a street and then a long wall of blast walls, which if the blast was on the road, in all probability it might have been, but either way they protect what is on the the other side of it and magnify the blast closer in so the level of casualties likely to be very high and then a second blast near the baron hotel which is the british base of their operations and one of the main routes for refugees and particularly afghans and large numbers of foreigners who get out. so clearly a carefully recognizance target. isis-k members were picksed up
8:22 am
by the taliban filming potential targets around kabul. so this is well trailed. but i think the ultimate failure here in terms of security is down to the taliban because they've been screening people coming to the airport. preventing ordinary afghans from escaping and not able to stop the attackers according to the united nations i spoke to in kabul there is concern among the united nations security there that there is more than one attacker and this is a much more complex series of events anz they are deeply concerned there yet be more attacks, kate. >> thank you so much for that. to bring everyone up to speed. what we know at this hour. there have been to explosions at least confirmed by the pentagon outside of the kabul airport in afghanistan. the pentagon confirms there are u.s. and civilian casualties. though no word on the extent of those casualties, how many and how bad it is. there is a alert that came out
8:23 am
about an hour ago at this point, the latest alert from the u.s. embassy telling american citizens near the airport very simply and urgently to leave immediately. the situation continues and is unfolding waiting for more updates as we speak. kaitlan collins is reporting that the president is meeting with his advisers. he's been in the situation room dealing with this all this morning. cnn national security analyst peter burgen is joining me now with more on this. part of the big questions at moment are now, peter, who it is and who is lind this and why? what do you think? >> well let me start by saying something about the fatalities. i'm talking to sources on the ground, they're talking about a large number of fatalities on the ground. >> not just injuries, but fatalities. large number of fatalities. >> and we expect that the pentagon is very careful about putting out those types of
8:24 am
numbers and estimates. we're continuing to seek more information about that. to get the number of casualties, if there are fatalities, of course, because announcing that is extremely important when people are watching this breaking news unfold. continue, please. >> so sam was describing to you the abbey gate which is kind of the main gate and there is a canal or sewage duct that runs sort of parallel or near the gate and i saw video of a very large group of afghans 20 minutes before the blast who were all sort of piled up against the blast walls near the gate. clearly there were a lot of afghans who were there waiting. the sources on the the ground say there were many fatalities an many dead bodies. they don't have a precise number. and the baron hotel where is the other explosion happened has been a processing center for brits and europeans trying to
8:25 am
evacuate. clearly you ask the question who, we don't know. obviously isis-k is top of the list of suspects. but h.r. mcmaster had an interesting interview with jim just now is that the haqqani network, they've done multiple complex attacks in kabul in the past. they're part of the taliban but they're more extreme part of the taliban. they're normally in charge of security in kabul. so, they will be able to let people in to do this kind of attack. why not? we've given that we've had about ten days of an evacuation going on here. so there has been plenty of time to plan for this. and we've seen complex attacks from all sorts of groups in kabul against civilians in the past. these group of suspects were the
8:26 am
isis-k, al qaeda and some elements of the haqqani network are the three groups i would be looking at. >> peter, thank you so much for that. to reinforce what we know. there are have been two explosions outside of the airport in kabul, afghanistan. we know from the pentagon, john kirby specifically saying it has resulted in a number of u.s. and civilian casualties. extent of which we do not know. we just don't. to reinforce that point. we continue to seek more information. let me get over to nick paton walsh, our diplomatic editor for more on -- apologies, nic robertson, our editor joining me now. nick, what are you picking up? >> reporter: this is clearly going to set and has set the alarm bells of what would could come near. we're here analyzed and the threat from the french president saying he's concerned about the situation that exists around the
8:27 am
airport. people have been advised to leave because there is a concern of a follow on attack in the same vicinity. it is been a signature of complex attacks that people that first attack happens, maybe a second attack and then while people are gathered or first responders go in, then another attack comes on that. but the reality of the situation here right now is that, and this cements to be the concern, that another follow on could be a third attack would happen. but moving beyond this point, and this is been expressed to me a concern, a concern expressed over recent weeks actually, as a drawdown has been going on, even before we got into the civilian phase of the drawdown and the evacuations before the taliban got to kabul was the possibility and this we could only say at moment that this is a possibility and a concern, not something that has been confirmed. but one of the these terrorist groups and if it is as peter
8:28 am
very rightly suggest, potentially it could be isis-k, used as a cutout by the haqqani network, do they have surface to air capability, what is known by the military as man pads, you fire from your soldier at an aircraft. will they choose to escalate the situation. we know the typical m.o. of attacks in afghanistan has been the vehicle suicide bomb, the walk up human suicide bomb with a follow on gun attacks but we also know that go back to the 90s when the major haddine were fighting the associates providing with stinger missiles. those were wrapped up and collected in the past but is there and has there come into circulation during the taliban times, has the haqqani network from bases been able to go out and try to procure or have this
8:29 am
kind of armament in its arsenal. it is not clear. this sort of devices that not -- has not been used seen or reported in afghanistan and the taliban have had a lot of time to go after afghan helicopters and u.s. military aircraft and this type of surface-to-air missile has not been used. but going forward, that will become it has to be part of the evaluation and i will stress again that there is no evidence to support that they exist. but the concern by security experts, western security experts about the situation in afghanistan, that has been expressed to me over recent months, kate. >> nick, thank you for your reporting. let me bring in now cnn's tim lister. you have done extensive reporting on the intelligence and the threat stream that is existed that you've been hearing from officials. the threat stream from isis-k targeting people outside of the airport. talk to us through your
8:30 am
reporting. >> reporter: i think, kate, the big worry is that isis-k had this capability. they have the motivation and it is their moat modus on ranty. they are used to carrying out attacks on civilian targets. they've attacked courts and religious ceremonies and carry out complex attacks as nick and peter have said. i recall one where they waited until the media rushed to one particular suicide bombing and then send a second suicide bomber in. -- undercover to afghanistan. bringing all of the skills that they'd acquired in iraq with them. and when they arrived in afghanistan, they set up in the mountains, nangarhar and kunar but they were devastated by the
8:31 am
army and the taliban as well as no love whatsoever for kisis. so they created cells in jalalabad that have carried out the devastating suicide attacks over a period of four or five years now, kats. >> tim, thank you. let me go now to general mark hertling. what is your take on what we're seeing unfold before us. >> i want to reinforce what tim lister just said. because he nailed it in terms of the isis-k network if that is who this is. they have been active in kabul for the last several years. they've conducted a multiple attacks against afghan security forces both army and police. they want to create carnage and confusion and imtim dags --
8:32 am
intimidation. we could talk about al qaeda or haqqani, but i suspect they have done this and it is embarrassing to the taliban. no you do we care about that? not really. but it does pose some threats to our neo operation, our noncombat ant military operation. the neo which has been having spits and starts, i said the other day with you that had t has different phases. we have just entered the third phase. it is a contested neo that just got more contested because the enemy now has a vote. truthfully, kate, i expected this. didn't expect it today. i expected it tomorrow. and the reason why i say tomorrow is because it is friday. it is the day of prayer. and anybody that conducts a suicide attack which we will find out this was, has to give blessings from their isis-k imam
8:33 am
before they go out and conduct the attacks. so i expect this to be in the afternoon on friday unfortunately for many people it came today. but i think it is critically important that yesterday the embassy knew of these threats, they got a majority of people out there but still you have a lot of afghans who were charging gates because they want to get out on one of the planes and they did internal risk assessments an say we're going to stay at this abbey gate and the baron hotel and they were caught in the suicide attack which was horrific, but truthfully not unexpected. >> that is heartbreaking to here. thank you very much. we're continuing this hour to continue to cover the breaking news. there is a lot that we do not know. here is what we do know. the important updates are as follows. the pentagon is confirming an explosion outside of the kabul airport. the first confirmation came from the pentagon at about 9:45 this morning eastern time.
8:34 am
officials tell cnn a number of u.s. and civilian casualties, the way that the pentagon spokesperson puts it is a number of u.s. and civilian casualties have resulted. there is also, the pentagon confirms, a second explosion. two explosions outside of kabul airport. injuries and the extent of those wounds are not known. let's go to the white house right now and kaitlan collins continues to stand by. what are you hearing? >> reporter: well there have been a lot of schedule changes here at the white house. because right now we were supposed to be seeing president biden in the oval office with the israeli prime minister who is visiting here in washington. that meeting has been delayed by what has happened in afghanistan. with the reports now confirmed by the pentagon in the two explosions. one which was outside of a very busy gate where people had been trying to get in as the evacuations were winding down.
8:35 am
the second one at the baron motel, last friday when the president was speaking to us in the east room, they said they have been leaving the airport but the u.s. military had conducted an operation where they took helicopters outside of the perimeter to the baron hotel to rescue about 169 people. i think it was 169 americans. that's the same hotel where the explosion as happened. this is a great concern here at the white house. that is something that president biden has been warning about, the fact that isis-k or other organiz organization could try to cause mayhem. right now he's in the situation room with his staff and several other top national security aides and we're waiting to see if we'll get an update from the white house or the pentagon for numbers. but that is so far what we've here at the white house.
8:36 am
>> is there any expectation, that we'll hear from the president on this any time soon. >> reporter: it is hard to see how the president doesn't address this today given that he is been giving the updates regularly on what is happening in afghanistan as the time has been ticking down for this exit, for this u.s.-l.e.d. exit. it is supposed to happen on tuesday. but right now they are still gathering information and likely won't hear from the president until they have a confirmed number about the casualties on the ground. how it has affected the thousands of u.s. troops on ground we should note because so far they only started to fly out a few hundred as they were continuing the evacuations so that is a number one concern for the white house, is the safety and security of these service members who were on the ground. and so it is hard to see how we don't hear from the president at some point today on this. but the schedule is still incredibly fluid and whether or not we're going to hear from jen psaki in about 30 minutes when she was to brief remains to be seen. >> thank you so much. let me go to nick paton walsh in
8:37 am
doha. 9:45 eastern time was the confirmation of the first explosion. at 11:00 a.m. we heard confirmation from the opinion there has been at least a second explosion. talk to me about where this is all playing out, nick? >> this is occurring at the moment of dusk in kabul. sadly we've seen over the past decades that this is often when attacks do occur. because of heightened population movements, et cetera. this is happening in one of the busiest parts around the airport. the abbey gate, the bar ron hotel as you were hearing kaitlan talking about. when the u.s. talks about going out to retrieve people, the baron is not that far from the airport. it is an extension of the airport come pound where private contractors have lived over the years. fortified with heavy doors an gates and one of the explosions
8:38 am
was outside of that. it is been the base for the british for i while. a kind of clearing house for some degree for many different nationalities moving through on the the way to airport, to get to the airport you need to find a way through peril is busy crowds and taliban checkpoints so one of the safest way it so nip into the baron and try to make your way on to the airport compound proper. to do that you have to pass through a sort of 500 meter possibly short of about a half a mile walk through a crowded area often, sort of the usual poorly laid kabul streets and blast walls on either side and a sewage canal that runs along the road. that since had razor wire put on it and we saw images back then that it looks awful to see a volume of afghans, different souls holding up their paperwork
8:39 am
trying to prove their case as to why they should be allowed into the united states or nato allied countries to start a new life. people were walking through sewage in clothes to move around. i mean, remarkable in that. this appears to be where the blast struck. and we've covered multiple attacks like there in afghanistan. they do always seem at times the worst extremists to go for the most densely populated part of humanity that they could find and here for the enemies of the united states, it is a large collection of afghans who say that they are pro-united states and worked for the united states. that is the part of the case to get on to the airport. so abbey gate itself like all of the gates, a large heavy metal door. a lot of pressure often against it. a lot of time we've seen in the past security forces firing shots over the heads of people to get them to move back. people rarely listen to that. and added desperation today as well because like yesterday, it seems that abbey gate has been
8:40 am
fully closed i was told this morning. so no siv applicants able necessarily to get in. that would have added to the pressure. and on top of that as well, we're at this point seeing some allied military of the united states leaving. we know that the australian and canadians and turkish and others have beginning their withdrawal and if not completed it. britain may have been starting their wrack up today. i'm speculating here, with you the british have to get from the baron hotel into the main compound of the airport proper. so it is unclear which personnel were caught in this. we understand u.s. personnel were there as well. in the video i saw yesterday, you could see u.s. personnel and british walking along the razor wire and trying to control the crowds. it is an impossible task. a source familiar with the situation on the airport said to me we are trying to get the
8:41 am
right person out of these huge angry desperate afghans but we couldn't do that because they're there with parents and young children. so this time for evacuation on a large scale is massively reducing by the weekend. but the idea of an attack like this one which was suggested as seemed a stretch of what any human would be capable of it but covering afghanistan for last two decades it has the ability to shock and surprise you. and the fact that it seems someone approach a crowd of this size full of families. this is not military age males waiting up to join the army. this is families. people desperate for a new life as far as we know where the blast struck, kate. >> nick, thank you for your reporting. i want to go now to peter burgen, bring peter back in. i'm not sure you could see them
8:42 am
but i want to put on the screen for our viewers some of the first images that are coming out from after these explosions and a warning, these images are graphic. and what we could see in the images are people taken away bloodied and bandaged and taken away in wheelbarrows and walking through a mass of people and some trying to get away as quickly as possible. tragic to see. you could only imagine what they've been going through as they are trying to stand at that abbey gate to get into that airport and now this. >> yeah, sources that i'm in contact with on the the ground talk about picking -- having to step over a number of large -- a large number of dead bodies. i won't speculate on numbers but they're talking about many
8:43 am
fatalities which isn't surprising because as nick was saying, it appears the bomb was placed it seems near this sewage canal and close to the abbey gate. footage i've seen 20 minutes before the explosion showed a large number of afghans outside of the abbey gate. and the blast wall as sam pointed out would -- that they were pressed up against, would contain the blast and reinforce the blast when this bomb went off. so, the fact that i'm hearing reports directly from people on the the ground about fatalities, and not in considerable numbers shouldn't be surprising given where this bomb went off and how many afghans were at that gate. >> from official sources we have not confirmed anything yet so we need to be careful to not get ahead of it and not speculate. because of what it all means.
8:44 am
peter, thank you very much. i want to go to sam kiley in doha right now. talking to nick paton walsh and he's talking about where this is all taking place, laying out very clearly kind of the map of the abbey gate and the corridor and the baron hotel and i'm reminded that the baron hotel which the pentagon is saying that the explosion, the second explosion was near or outside of, the baron hotel is also the site of one of those helicopter evacs of i believe it was american citizens being taken from that hotel. >> reporter: yeah, that was there the early days of the evacuation. 169 americans were airlifted out of the baron into the airfield. but the baron at the time was a benign environment. it had been secured by british paratroopers and their base. there was a lift conducted because that area where the bomb blast at the abbey gate or near where that has gone off was insecure. now we don't know why it was
8:45 am
considered insecure. other passengers have been able to cross between the baron and through the abbey gate. it is a sort of run of a few hundred meters to get into the airport. but it was obviously deemedin secure at that time. in secure enough to use a big piece of airlift like a chinook aircraft to hop over into baron and pick these people up and move them back into the main airfield. so that is just an indication of just howin -- how insecure this is. the baron is outside of the hard perimeter of the whole airfield. but it has an air gap between it which is periodically safe and other sometimes unsafe in the vicinity of one of the blasts that was conducted and then another near the baron hotel. this may have been two blafrts
8:46 am
on the the same stretch of road. that road bound at other side by concrete blast walls which do concentrate the blast between themselves and as peter was saying, there have been videos now circulating among -- of afghan casualties. there is fno visibility of american casuals although the prnts has confirmed there have been in u.s. casualties. sources in the britishmill that i've been in communication with have not indicated any kind of british military casualties nor any direct comment on this whole process. because this was until very recently the british camp. when i was in the airfield, at kabul international airport only yesterday, it was beginning to fill pretty rapidly with british troops and so clearly they were involved in what is called collapsing down. moving their troops out of that
8:47 am
location into the main airfield prior to conducting a complete withdrawal as part of coalition withdrawal. it is not clear as to whether or not they still had elements within the camp and there is flo reports about any british casualties from the cool side of u.s. casualties. we've heard from the emergency hospital in downtown kabul saying they've received 60 wounded including six patients that were dead on arrival. this is a hospital that cnn has visited many times in the past. myself included. very reliable source of information. indeed a hospital that historically has stayed through successive changes of government in afghanistan and notably in the period it was one of the few hospitals still running under taliban control back in 2001. so some indication there have of the scale of the casualties on the afghan side. >> sam, thank you so much for
8:48 am
your reporting. let pme bring in nic robertson once again. as we're watching this fluid situation continue to unfold, no clear answer if the threat is now over to those outside of kabul airport. in light of this, how important was that warning that was put out by the u.s. embassy last night when it said, it put out the alert to americans and others who are outside of the airport to leave immediately. >> it was hugely important. and it spoke to the precise nature of the intelligence gathered on the potential attack. we know that the british foreign ministry put out a similar warning and the australians followed later in the night. it was very clear that a stream of intelligence that wasn't being shared on precise nature and it came from, but it was deemed to be very time sensitive and very accurate and very specific that something was imminent. i mean, now the taliban own this. this is theirs. they own the security in that
8:49 am
area. and they have made a very powerful point and have plead it over many, many pmonths now and the point is simple, saying we made an agreement with the united states that none of the soldiers were be targeted by our forces while the drawdown was going on. they made that very clear and they have said many times recently that they've stuck to it and that is -- that is sort of the one thing that they say we have kept our word, when people say you didn't keep your word on treating women, you didn't keep your word on many issues, it has been this thing. so now the taliban will own this under their watch, u.s. service personnel and now casualties in this attack. so that is on them. so the question is what they are going to do? we heard from president biden earlier in the week speaking at the g7 and we heard boris johnson speaking after the g7 and they made it very clear that the future relationship with the taliban was going to depend on
8:50 am
the continued access by continued access, they meant safe and secure access. this is coming at a hugely sensitive diplomatic time where there is in effect the changeover of power. and support while leaving and that the taliban was picking up the rest. so this is going to now dominate and set the framework for future registrations with the taliban. this is not the way that they appeared to want it to start. and it certainly is not going to put it on a good footing going forward. absolutely, the taliban own this. what are they going to do about it? what are they going to do in terms of providing that real security that's required now to get all those other people evacuated if the evacuations can continue? >> that's a very important question, nick. thank you so much. let me bring in tim.
8:51 am
you heard what nick was talking about. what do you think about that? we know that the commanders on the ground as they've been talking about have been about deconfliction. they've been negotiating security throughout this. where does -- where is that left now? >> i'm going to agree with nick. the taliban was done it. the taliban is -- they're not from kabul. they're from the south. even the unit that is guarding the airport at the moment, they came up from canadahar two days after the taliban took kabul. you have to realize that. an effective insurgency doesn't necessarily mean an effective security force. the taliban are learning on the job and very quickly and dramatically as we've seen today. that's a big problem. another problem to deal with, when they swept through the whole of the country, taking all the provincial capitols in one week, that was the easy part in a way.
8:52 am
and as they did, they liberated thousands of prisoners. among those were a lot of al qaeda and isis people. taliban don't like isis. in the chaos, upwards of 100, maybe as many as several hundred isis prisoners got out of two prisons near kabul. and they've really not been found. there are reports that the taliban managed to find an execute a couple of them. by and large, there are a lot more isis and al qaeda people running around afghanistan now than two weeks ago. that's another problem they've got. so i think they're really struggling at this point to be able to exercise full security over what is a chaotic environment. they're not used to dealing with things like this. >> tim, thanks for that. let's go back to nick paton walsh. nick, to reset what we know and when we learned about. 9:45 eastern time this morning, the pentagon confirmed the first explosion outside of the kabul
8:53 am
airport. then at about 11:00 a.m., confirmation from the pentagon of a second explosion had occurred. where we are right now, do you have any assessment, any information about if the threat is past? >> you have to assume that it is not. because it's been there for sort of 20 years in various forms, but with isis over the past four or five years, they're always the group who have been behind the attacks that leave you breathless in terms of how savage they are, talking large processions of shiuates, particularly minorities in kabul. things that make your blood chill and normally have their hallmark attached to them. they have been a confusing phenomenon at times . many analysts have thought they're blamed for things which are possibly carried out by other groups who don't want to put their name to it.
8:54 am
during isis heyday in iraq and syria, they rose on that online popularity among the mildly deranged online. isis have been at times a complicated group to ubnderstan, and they've often taken the place previously occupied by a group behind the attacks. they are the al qaeda affiliate. what we're looking at here outside the gate is the complex attack that john kirby tweeted about. it's very much relevant of the sort of extremist groups. as tim was saying, i've been hearing from afghan intelligence sources over the previous administration, their fears of prisons that were being opened. the prison run by the afghan intelligence service, bagram,
8:55 am
considered imprnot -- a lot of people who most of society would have been pleased to see behind bars were bibliberated. the question was when the taliban took over security, were they going to use the presence of the people in society as cover for carrying out attacks that they may have wanted to do themselves. no evidence of that, and they're trying to work out what's really happened. but it's also a major test, frankly, of governance. they control the main roads. they're the ones who presumably have to assist with emergency responders get getting to the scene. sam was talking about the emergency hospital in kabul. six dead on arrival there. 30 injured. i hate to say this, but covering these kind of mass casualty attacks from isis over the years, these numbers often get bigger. sometimes a lot bigger as the hours go by. if you can imagine how densely packed people were into that space, they were into the closing possibly 24/36 hours in which they could imagine to be
8:56 am
processed in large numbers. as siv applicants on that airport, they were up against the gate. there were people who were desperately hoping their name had got onto a list and marine or officer would come out and say i'm looking for you. but even a source familiar with the airport said for people doing that task, it was virtually impossible, because they were so cramped. because if they saw any success, people would try to push themselves in the same direction, and so this scene often of infants, old people, people trying to take their whole family from their aging parents right down to their infant child, out of the country for a new life was an unimaginable target for an attack like this. and the fact that we seem to have seen one explosion and possibly another is obviously a hallmark of the most awful extremism afghanistan has gathered. if you're looking for an as if they present an extremist threat, you get your answer with what's happened today.
8:57 am
>> nick, stick with me if you could. let me go back to general mark hurtling on this. two explosions outside of kabul airport. we know there are u.s. and -- we know there are casualties. we know that u.s. personnel are among the wounded. and we know there's been an alert that's come out this morning again from the u.s. embassy to say to all americans, anyone near, to leave immediately. what is the impact on evacuation on the evacuation operation? >> it's going to effect it significantly, kate. if i can for a second, though, i'd like to go back to what nick said. i think he nailed it. the taliban has promised security outside the airfield. but we got to remember they are not in charge. i mean, everyone believes that they are now the governing rulers of afghanistan. they are not. they're still involved in a civil war. they have not established their government processes. and the dudes they have carrying rifles around, these various
8:58 am
gates are not security personnel. a week ago they were fighters rolling through the country side. so this is going to be very embarrassing to them. and i think we will see some repercussions between the united states and the taliban authorities. but getting back to your question of how this will effect the neo- the evacuation operations. we've talked about this. we're in the phase where that commander on the scene is starting to think about how do i get soldiers out of here and embassy officials that -- the consulate officials who have been driving the evacuation process? and it's a measured response of getting those individuals supporting the evacuation with still trying to get more and more evacuees out. americans, siv holders, special immi immigrants. that's going to change. there are going to be a lot of people who say hey, i'm not going anywhere near those gates. even with a call forward process. the risk requirements to get into the airfield are going to be extremely high because they
8:59 am
don't know what to expect next. this will -- we saw a reduction in the numbers last night. they were still unbelievably large. 14 or so thousand. we're going to seeless and less of that. but it's going to contribute to i think the potential of getting out either faster or more effectively, but all of that is going to be taking place under an increased threat environment. and that's -- when you're talking about suicide bombers or any kind of bombers in a complex attack which means a couple of bombs plus -- i mean, that's a term, a doctrinal term we use plus the rifle firing and the shooting after the bombing, you know, there's a lot of folks with weapons now out and about kabul. it's hard to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys. it's going to be tough getting more evacuees in. we're probably going to see an increased reduction in the numbers that are getting out of afghanistan. even on the charter flights or the c-17s.
9:00 am
but it's going to require that commander on the scene to get his act together in terms of how to flow out. >> yeah. first and foremost, what exactly happened is the threat past? and who and how many people are injured in all of this? thank you, general. i'm kate bolduan. thank you for being with us. for our continuing coverage out of afghanistan, anderson cooper picks up right now. hello to our viewers in the united states and around the world. the major breaking news this hour, terror in kabul. a pair of explosions and gunfire. part of what the pentagon describings as a complex attack. an ngo on the ground said 60 patients were rushed to the hospital. six dead on arrival. this is what we know about the attack right now. we should point out these are very early


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on