‘We know that terrorists may seek to exploit the situation,’ president says, noting security situation ‘changing rapidly’.
WASHINGTON (AA) – The US has increased the size of the security perimeter around Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, President Joe Biden confirmed Sunday.
The announcement comes just one day after reports surfaced that the Afghanistan affiliate of the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group might attempt to stage an attack on the airport.
Biden said the Taliban were “cooperative” in expanding the zone amid ongoing US efforts to evacuate its nationals as well as Afghans seeking refugee status with the US, saying that the security situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport “is changing rapidly.”
The president said that while evacuation efforts are continuing to ferry people out of Afghanistan, including about 11,000 in the past 30 hours alone, the US is mindful of civilian crowding outside the airport, which may be a target for terrorist groups.
“We know that terrorists may seek to exploit the situation,” he said in remarks televised from the White House. “Our first priority in Kabul is getting American citizens out of the country as quickly and as safely as possible.”
Biden said his administration is “executing a plan” to evacuate groups of Americans whom the State Department has identified “to safety, and to safely and effectively move them to the airport compound.”
The president declined to elaborate on what those plans entail, but reports have indicated that the Pentagon has carried out at least one helicopter rescue mission into Kabul to retrieve stranded Americans.