CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. senators and representatives from Illinois issued messages of heartbreak and mourning Thursday, after 12 service members were killed and 15 injured in a “complex attack” outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
On Thursday, one bomb exploded among crowds waiting at Abbey Gate at the airport, and another explosion struck a nearby hotel, according to the Pentagon.READ MORE: Donald Greene Sr. Gets 2 Years In Prison For Scheme To Sell Diseased Body Parts In Brokering Scheme
The Pentagon said a suicide bomber detonated an explosion that tore through a crowd waiting at an entrance to the airport – where thousands of people have gathered every day since the city fell to the Taliban, desperate to board flights out of the country. Another explosion struck a nearby hotel, the Pentagon said.
The total death toll stood at 90 people, with 150 more wounded, an Afghan official said. Included in that figure were 12 U.S. service members who were killed and 15 others who were injured.
U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) released the following statement after the attacks:
“Today’s heinous attacks in Kabul targeted American citizens, service members, diplomats, and vulnerable Afghans trying to flee for their safety. My heart is with families and loved ones of the service members and other innocent people who have been injured or killed in these acts of terror.
“Once the airport and surrounding areas are secure, we must continue to evacuate Americans and others from Afghanistan. Any delay from the timetable will open us up to more dangers.
“I salute the men and women in uniform and our brave diplomats on the ground who are executing this humanitarian mission. They are risking their lives in the face of extremely dangerous conditions. It is time to bring our people home and end American involvement in Afghanistan’s conflicts once and for all.”
U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-Illinois) released a similar statement expressing grief.
“There are no words to express the collective heartbreak and deep pain our entire nation feels as we mourn the loss of the American service members killed in Afghanistan today. My heart is with the families and friends of our service members as well as the loved ones of our Afghan allies that were killed or injured in this heinous and cowardly attack.
“We must continue our mission to evacuate all U.S. residents and as many Afghan allies and refugees as quickly and safely as possible. Our office continues to monitor this situation at every hour, and my staff remains available to help any and all constituents seeking to evacuate family, friends and loved ones from Afghanistan.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in his statement that he was “devastated.”
“I am devastated that American service members and Afghan civilians have been killed and injured in attacks in Kabul. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those lost, and with every member of our armed forces around the world, who I know mourn as well.READ MORE: Benet Academy Decides To Hire Amanda Kammes As Lacrosse Coach After Rescinding Job Offer Because She Is Married To A Woman
“The service men and women on the ground in Afghanistan represent the best and most courageous among us. They have engaged in an unprecedented evacuation effort in the face of incredible personal risk to help American citizens and innocent Afghans who deserve our aid. As the threat remains high, Congress has an obligation to ensure that our military and diplomatic personnel in Kabul have the support they need to continue their work. We must also remain committed to our mission of assisting refugees and push back against any who may attempt to fearmonger in the wake of these attacks.
“I remain grateful to our service members, diplomatic personnel, and intelligence community for their dedication and service.”
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement:
“As a duly-elected Member of the United States House of Representatives, I condemn in the strongest possible terms the heinous terrorist attack outside Kabul airport. I mourn the loss of every innocent life taken, and join every American in heartbreak over the deaths of the servicemembers and civilians killed.
“Our office has received over 100 calls and emails from people looking to help their families, loved ones and colleagues get out of Afghanistan. That includes American Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents in Afghanistan, as well as family members of Americans who want to help their families evacuate. We’ve also heard from military veterans and others who were helped by local Afghans who now need to be evacuated for their safety. Working with the State Dept., we have relayed the details of the individuals needing to get out and their contact information, so that the Pentagon and State Dept. officials can help facilitate their evacuation. We are also working with local groups here on the ground in the Chicago area to help refugees in need of basic necessities that may be brought here or in other parts of the world.
“With the tragic events of today, this situation becomes even more complex and urgent. My deepest condolences go out to the families of those lost today, and wishing a speedy recovery to those injured. Know this – the United States Congress is with you.”
Late Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden addressed the nation in the wake of the attacks.
The president began his remarks by saying it’s been a “tough day,” and mourning the lost lives of American service members. He called them “heroes.”
“They’re the spine of America. The best the country has to offer,” the president said.
But he also had a stark warning for those responsible for the attack in Kabul that resulted in American deaths: “We will hunt you down and make you pay.” Mr. Biden said the U.S. has “some reason to believe” they know who those ISIS leaders are. The president said he’s asked military commanders to develop plans to strike ISIS-K assets.
The mission to evacuate Americans and Afghans, the president said, will continue.
“We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation,” he said.MORE NEWS: Boy, 15, Shot And Killed In West Chatham
The commander-in-chief has set a deadline of Tuesday, Aug. 31 for withdrawing the U.S. from Afghanistan, and it remains to be seen how the complex attack and security situation outside the airport will affect that timeline. Earlier this week, the president said the U.S. was “on pace” to meet that deadline. But the situation on the ground is unstable, and can change rapidly.