Navy Corpsman from Ohio among those who died in Afghanistan terrorist attack


By Associated Press and staff reports



The Pentagon says it has determined that the attack at the Kabul airport on Thursday involved only one location and not two as was previously reported.

The Pentagon said there was one Islamic State suicide bomber, who struck at the Abbey Gate, where desperate Afghans were crowding to try and enter Kabul airport grounds and where U.S. troops were conducting security checks.

Upon learning of the death of an Ohioan, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said, “Jane and I are heartbroken by the death of Max Soviak, a Navy Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman from Berlin Heights, who lost his life in the service of his country. He was a hero who died serving with his Marine brothers helping to save fellow countrymen and our Afghan allies. We mourn his loss and are praying for his family and friends.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Sloviak “died a hero serving his country and working to save the lives of those fleeing imminent danger. My thoughts are with his family, who received the hardest news any parent can hear. May the lives he worked to save be a comfort to all who knew and loved him. His selflessness and heroism will be his legacy.”

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, the deputy director for regional operations on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, told reporters on Friday that there was no second explosion near the Baron Hotel near the airport.

He said the bombing at the Abbey Gate was followed by direct gunfire from north of the gate — part of what the military has called a complex attack. Taylor said they have no more details on the identity of the shooters. Taylor attributed the incorrect initial U.S. report about a second explosion to confusion.

A statement from Sen. Portman on Thursday read, “Today is a tragic day for our country. For the first time in more than 18 months we have lost members of our armed forces who were serving in Afghanistan to hostile action.

“These brave Marines and Navy Corpsman died honorably trying to save their fellow countrymen and those Afghan allies who have supported our troops, diplomats and citizens for two decades.

“There will be plenty of time for finger pointing and politics. Now is the time to express our gratitude to all the men and women of our armed services who have put themselves in harm’s way and offer our special prayers and condolences to the families and comrades of those who made the ultimate sacrifice today.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday night, “in accordance with the order issued by President Biden and in honoring the lives of the U.S. service members and other victims killed in the terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan,” issued a flag lowering order directing that all U.S. and Ohio flags be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds throughout the state until sunset August 30.

Two officials said 169 Afghans died, but a final count might take time amid the confusion.

The U.S. said 13 troops were killed in what was the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.

President Joe Biden’s national security team has told the president that another terror attack is “likely” in Kabul, and that “maximum force protection” measures are being taken at the airport in the Afghan capital.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not go into detail on the assessment Biden received from his team one day after a suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. servicemembers and scores of Afghans outside the airport.

Psaki says the next few days of the mission to evacuate Americans and vulnerable Afghans fleeing Taliban rule “will be the most dangerous period to date.”

Biden has said that he intends to complete the evacuation by his Tuesday deadline.

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BERLIN — German authorities are preparing for dozens of people wounded in Thursday’s attack at Kabul airport to arrive at the U.S. Air Base Ramstein, from where they will be transported to nearby hospitals.

The head of the Kaiserslautern regional authority said on Friday that about 30-40 men, women and children with in some cases very serious injuries were expected. It wasn’t clear whether they were civilians or soldiers, or what nationalities they have, said Ralf Lessmeister.

Rescue services and surrounding hospitals have been put on alert to receive the wounded, he said. The U.S, military operates a large medical facility at nearby Landstuhl.

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LONDON — The U.K. says two British citizens and the child of another Briton were among those killed in the suicide bomb attack at Kabul’s airport.

It was unclear if the British victims were dual nationals and also Afghan citizens.

The government says two other Britons were wounded in the attack, which killed 169 Afghans, according to a preliminary count, and 13 American troops. A final count of those killed as they queued in hope of getting an evacuation flight might take time amid confusion, with many bodies dismembered or not yet identified.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Britons killed “were innocent people and it is a tragedy that as they sought to bring their loved ones to safety in the U.K. they were murdered by cowardly terrorists.”

Britain has evacuated almost 14,000 U.K. citizens and Afghans from Kabul in an airlift that is in its final hours Friday.

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GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency is gearing up for as many as half a million people or more to flee from Afghanistan in a “worst-case scenario” in the coming months.

UNHCR says the situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover last week “remains uncertain and may evolve rapidly,” with up to 515,000 new refugees fleeing.

The agency said that would add to the 2.2 million Afghans who already are registered as refugees abroad — nearly all of them in Pakistan and Iran.

“The upsurge of violence across the country and the fall of the elected government may have a serious impact on civilians and cause further displacement,” the plan said.

The agency cited estimates that 558,000 people have been internally displaced within Afghanistan due to armed conflict this year alone – four in five of them women and children. “UNHCR estimates that the number of displaced will rise, both internally and across border,” it said.

Najeeba Wazedafost, CEO of the Asia Pacific Refugee Network, in an online UNHCR news conference on Friday, warned of “coming darkness” in Afghanistan amid a “tragically intertwined series of crises.”

The U.N. agency is seeking nearly $300 million for its response plan for inter-agency requirements.

By Associated Press and staff reports