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As The U.S. Leaves Afghanistan, A New Cycle Of Violence May Be Starting

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Just as the United States leaves Afghanistan, a new cycle of violence may be starting. Yesterday's twin suicide bombings are attributed to a group called ISIS-K. It is an affiliate of the Islamic State organization. It is opposed to the United States, which is leaving Afghanistan, and also opposed to the Taliban, which is taking over. Yesterday's twin suicide bombing killed more than 100 people, including 13 American troops. President Biden promised to make the attackers pay.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: These ISIS terrorists will not win. We will rescue the Americans in there. We will get our Afghan allies out. And our mission will go on.

INSKEEP: Let's begin our coverage in Kabul with Charlotte Bellis of Al-Jazeera. Welcome back.

CHARLOTTE BELLIS: Hi. How are you?

INSKEEP: What have you seen as you've moved about Kabul today?

BELLIS: Well, we went to a funeral earlier of an Afghan soldier. There were hundreds of people there at his burial. We talked to his family members. They told us that he went there with hopes of going to America, that he believed that because he had served with U.S. troops that he may be entitled. And he was hoping that they may feel the same way and he could get out before Tuesday. But he was killed in the explosion. And they were saying now we will have to head four children. We will be supporting his wife and children going forward. And they said, we blame America for this, that we believe America brought trouble here. And we lay blame at America's feet. So quite interesting to get that response from them. Some of his family members obviously said ISIL is to blame because they were the ones that pulled the trigger, but it wasn't - they weren't unified in that. We also went to a hospital and met with people who were injured. And it was heartbreaking to see. A lot of people didn't know if their family members were alive.

INSKEEP: I want to think through with you the - what you heard from people in the hospital because this is a situation where the United States had warned that an attack was likely, quite possibly at the very gate that was attacked. And yet people were desperate enough to go to that gate and try to get - show their papers and get through.

BELLIS: Yeah. I think a lot of the information hadn't trickled down to Afghans. There were some - I went to the airport many times this week, and we talked about ISIL to people. And they said, yes, we're aware of it, but there's always an ISIL threat. And the clock is ticking. And if we don't get on one of these planes soon, we miss our chance. So it was a calculated risk for many. And even today, the Taliban have pushed the perimeter back. They're not allowing anyone through. Those that are around the perimeter say, you know, we know there could be attack today, also. But still, we come because it's a risk we're willing to take.

INSKEEP: Are the people in the hospital coming to terms not only with their injuries or even family members killed but with the reality they're not going to be on a plane?

BELLIS: Yeah, we were in the ICU. And there was shock as far as I - is how I read it. There was one man in there. He'd worked in the intelligence, Afghan intelligence. He believed he was entitled, because he'd worked with the Americans closely, to get on a plane. He tried to go down there. We met his daughter and wife outside. And they said, we've seen pictures. We know he's in bad shape, but we don't know anything more. So we found him inside the ICU, and we put them on speakerphone for him. And they said, be strong. We love you. And he just started sobbing. And, I mean, it's - so many stories like that in there of these people that went to the airport with such high hopes, believing that they were entitled to go to America to potentially give their families a better life. And they've been left with so little.

INSKEEP: Charlotte Bellis of Al-Jazeera, thanks for your work through the day. Really appreciate it.

BELLIS: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.