Jon arrived on Thursday to Kabul’s airport hoping to stable permission to leave Afghanistan along with his wife and four younger kids. It used to be the fourth time he had made that day commute.
The 46-12 months-old-fashioned aged translator for coalition forces had already paid a high keep for his carrier. He shared his anecdote on the condition that The Washington Post convey the title given to him by foreign contractors for safety reasons, Jon. He used to be shot eight occasions at some level of a centered attack that ultimately left a steel rod in his leg.
He made his strategy by means of a canal shut to Abbey Gate, on the southeast facet of Kabul’s airport. His leg with the steel rod ached as he waded by means of the infamous water. No matter the be concerned or hazard in attempting to leave Afghanistan, he disquieted the consequences of staying would be great worse. At around 5 p.m., he used to be at the Abbey Gate in the canal, the set U.S. troops procure been operating a checkpoint.
A couple of gunmen then opened fireplace on the civilians and armed forces forces. A native affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Post reviewed dozens of photos and videos, analyzed satellite imagery and spoke to witnesses to understand the occasions earlier than and after the devastating blast. Taken together, they reveal a elaborate web of checkpoints and visualize a chaotic scene in the wake of the bombing.
An prognosis of photos and videos from Wednesday, the previous day, stumbled on a pair of routes to the blast residing. A path ensuing in the Abbey Gate had at least two Taliban checkpoints and a coalition checkpoint. The safety perimeter shut to the Abbey Gate used to be guarded by coalition forces. It’s unclear how the bomber won catch entry to to the residing.
The U.S. Protection Department did now not immediately respond for sing, but American safety officials procure acknowledged the investigation into how the suicide bomber ultimately reached American forces is ongoing. Taliban leaders procure acknowledged the attack used to be the result of unhappy American safety.
Mohammad Paimani, a 27-12 months-old-fashioned journalist, used to be one of tons of of Afghans shut to Abbey Gate on Thursday morning who had now not effectively-known days of warnings by the United States to steer obvious of the airport. Hours earlier than the attack, he shot a video exhibiting astronomical crowds in the residing.
A couple of feet away, Jon watched those attempting to attain the other facet of the canal to recent their paperwork to American soldiers. Rapidly earlier than the blast, he took a photograph exhibiting throngs of of us tightly packed into the itsy-bitsy residing and a baby on the ledge next to armed forces personnel.
In a transient moment of opportunity, Jon belief he would possibly per chance well catch the soldier’s attention. He reached out along with his paperwork. Then the bomb detonated.
“It used to be chaos and soon as I used to be going to call one of them to catch their attention, I factual heard roar,” Jon acknowledged. Dazed by the blast, a loud tone rang in his ear as he tried to interrupt out.
Paimani also seen, then felt, an explosion.
“It used to be esteem doomsday … no one used to be serving to injured or expressionless of us,” Paimani wrote in a textual content message.
Fearing a second suicide bomber or the likelihood of being trapped, he fled with the anxious crowd. He witnessed ladies americans and kids trampled in the chaos.
“I by no contrivance belief this would happen in consequence of the Taliban had an settlement with the Americans,” Paimani acknowledged. “Americans belief that Americans warned of us of threats factual to terror them now not to crowd the airport but indeed the [Americans’] warnings got here accurate.”
Ali, who worked for the U.S. Embassy and spoke on the condition that he only be identified by his first title for safety concerns, went to the airport along with his paperwork, his ID and an e mail from the embassy that urged him to hasten to the East Gate of the airport, about a 10-minute stroll to the Abbey Gate.
After hearing the explosion, and the gunshots that followed, he like a flash took a photograph of U.S. troops who regarded in the direction of the blast. Then the soldiers threw smoke bombs to disperse the crowd, injuring several bystanders, based on Ali.
“Tons of ladies americans, I seen many of them the set their faces procure been burned and they didn’t transfer,” he acknowledged. He took a photograph of a man who he acknowledged used to be injured by canisters.
Videos filmed in the immediate aftermath, shut to the set Jon stood, reveal dozens of bloodied bodies, mangled and piled on prime of one another. Some lie in a sewage canal; others are on the ground or the keeping partitions factual outside the airport’s barricaded perimeter. Survivors would possibly per chance well be seen making their strategy by means of human remains and personal belongings to drag limp bodies from the water.
In another video, someone cries out, “Oh God, we repent to you, we repent to you.”
As the injured escaped the blast residing down a grime path, far from the airport, a younger boy hunted for his father. Then a man yelled, “Don’t conclude here! Lunge, hasten.”
Ambulances transported some of the injured to the Emergency Wisely being facility, a medical center for victims of war, about three miles far from the blast residing.
By nightfall, video showed of us had again gathered shut to the residing of the blast.
Satellite imagery on Friday showed far fewer of us in front of the entrances to the airport, especially at Abbey Gate, which appeared abandoned compared with previous days.
Americans did strive and attain the airport by means of the north gate, nonetheless. A video bought by The Post showed they procure been dispersed with flash bangs. Evacuation flights resumed. On Saturday, Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, acknowledged other americans that worked with the United States procure been tranquil being allowed into the airport.
U.S. commanders procure acknowledged the evacuation mission will continue, despite warnings that another terrorist attack in Kabul is likely. They procure requested adjustments to the safety perimeter and facet toll road closures in say to increase safety. Kirby acknowledged Friday that airport operations are tranquil below U.S. armed forces control.
For Jon, esteem so many Afghans tranquil desperate to leave, he made plans to return again to the airport after the attack. “If I close, I’m expressionless. I don’t procure any alternative but to return to the gates again.”
Mahnaz Rezaie, Laris Karklis and Karly Domb Sadof contributed to this describe.