US President Joe Biden vowed early Friday to “hunt down” the attackers responsible for the twin suicide bombings at Kabul airport in Afghanistan, saying he instructed the Pentagon to develop plans to strike back at ISIS which claimed responsibility.
“We will not forgive; we will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command,” he said at the White House.
The two blasts, which targeted the crowds massing near the Kabul airport, was blamed on ISIS-K, the extremist group's affiliate in Afghanistan. The group claimed responsibility for one of the bombings.
At least 72 people died and another 158 were wounded, according to US and Afghan officials. Out of the estimated casualties, 12 US service members were killed and 15 others were wounded, according to US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie.
Biden said: “There is no evidence thus far that I've been given as a consequence by any of the commanders in the field that there has been collusion between the Taliban and ISIS in carrying out what happened today.”
“We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.”
He added: “I have also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose and at the moment of our choosing... These ISIS terrorists will not win.”
The President reaffirmed that the August 31 deadline remained for US troops to leave Afghanistan, adding that there is an “opportunity for the next several days, between now and the 31st, to be able to get them out.”
“Knowing the threat, knowing that we may very well have another attack, the military has concluded that that's what we should do. I think they are right.”