Explosion rocks Kabul neighborhood 2 days before withdrawal deadline

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Aug. 29 (UPI) — Two days before the deadline for removing all U.S. personnel from Afghanistan, evacuations from country continue to decrease as an explosion occurred in a neighborhood in Kabul close to the airport on Sunday afternoon local time.

Eyewitnesses say, according to CNN, the cause is unknown. It is not clear yet if there are any casualties.

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Images and vide show dark smoke billowing from a house or compound in a mainly residential area.

Late Saturday night, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs issued an immediate warning for US citizens to evacuate areas near the Kabul airport due to a “specific, credible threat.”

On Saturday, Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Staff For Regional Operations, confirmed that two “high-profile ISIS targets” were killed Friday during a drone strike undertaken in Afghanistan.

Approximately 2,900 people were evacuated from the capitol Kabul from 3 a.m. EDT Saturday to 3 a.m. ET Sunday, the White House announced. They were carried out by 32 U.S. military flights, which carried approximately 2,200 evacuees, and nine coalition flights with 700 people.

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From Friday into Saturday, approximately 6,800 people were evacuated from Kabul.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday at a briefing slowing evacuation numbers would coincide with the retrograde process.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the administration is still actively working to evacuate about 300 American citizens from Afghanistan who have indicated that they want to leave the country.

Blinken also told ABC news the United States will not have a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after Tuesday. He said re-opening the embassy will depend on the Taliban’s behavior “in the weeks and months ahead.”

Also Sunday, the White House announced President Joe Biden will attend the dignified transfer of American service members killed in Thursday’s attack.

Biden will take Air Force One to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The president and the first lady will meet with the families of fallen American service members, then attend the dignified transfer at noon.

“The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team composed of military personnel from the fallen member’s respective service,” Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations said.

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In a statement, Biden praised the 13 service members killed in the attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, saying they were “heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others. Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far.”