KABUL -- The Taliban says none of its fighters guarding the perimeter of Kabul’s airport were killed in the explosions on August 26 that claimed more than 100 lives, including 13 U.S. troops, and deflected blame for the attack on the United States.
“Our forces were far from the scene of the blast and our forces suffered no casualties,” Taliban spokesman Zabihulah Mujahid said in an interview on August 27 with RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi.
Afghan and U.S. officials say the two suicide bombings killed at least 95 Afghans, as well as the U.S. soldiers. A Taliban health official said earlier the toll included 28 Taliban members.
Islamic State (IS), an enemy of the Taliban as well as the West, claimed responsibility for the attack saying one of its suicide bombers from its affiliate, IS-K, targeted "translators and collaborators with the American army."
In addition to the two explosions, one at an airport gate where Afghan civilians had lined up in hopes of catching a flight out of the country and another at a nearby hotel that has been a staging ground for evacuees, gunmen opened fire on the crowd, adding to the devastation.
Deflecting blame that the Taliban, now in effective control of most of Afghanistan, had failed to prevent the attack, Mujahid said it took place in an area around the Kabul airport where U.S. forces were responsible for security.
“The blast did not occur in our area. At the airport, [between the Taliban and the American forces] there is a clear line, our forces are advancing to this point, but not beyond. This is so that the American troops stationed in the field do not feel threatened, so we do not allow our forces to exceed a certain limit,” Mujahid said.
U.S. President Joe Biden, who vowed retaliation even as he remained committed to finishing the evacuation in the coming days, said there was no sign that the Taliban had enabled the August 26 attack.
“No one trusts them,” he said on August 26. “We are just counting on their self-interest.”