FRIDAY, AUGUST 27
At least 60 people, including up to 13 US troops have been killed in suicide bombings outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport sparking US president Joe Biden to declare “We will hunt you down”.
The Pentagon has confirmed two suicide bombers attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to HKIA after the Taliban once again seized power in the nation.
Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), an affiliate group of the Islamic State group that operates in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We will not forgive, we will not forget,” US President Joe Biden said during a televised live conference.
“We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
Injured people taken to a hospital in Kabul after twin suicide bombings struck outside the city’s airport.
The explosions happened near HKIA’s Abbey Gate and outside the nearby Baron Hotel, once a regular host to visiting foreigners.
US Central Command chief Kenneth McKenzie said after the blasts, gunmen proceeded to open fire on civilians and US forces.
“The threat from ISIS is extremely real … we believe it is their desire to continue those attacks,” General McKenzie said.
He added that the Pentagon was determined to continue its mission of evacuating people.
US President Joe Biden has set a deadline of August 31 for airlifting American citizens and vulnerable Afghans.
“ISIS will not deter us from completing the mission, I can assure you of that,” General McKenzie said.
An Afghan official told the Associated Press that 60 Afghans had been killed and another 143 wounded.
US officials said there was not yet enough information to provide a total death toll.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said “all Australian personnel are safe”.
“We condemn utterly the terrorist attack at Kabul airport,” she said.
“Our deepest sympathies go to all affected including US personnel and Afghan civilians.”
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said he was relieved all Australian soldiers had already departed from Afghanistan.
“We took the decision to lift the last of our people yesterday and they are safely in the United Arab Emirates,” he said.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen condemned the attacks in a statement, adding the bombings “took place in an area where US forces are responsible for security”.
“[The Taliban] is paying close attention to the security and protection of its people,” Mr Shaheen said on Twitter.
A huge blast was later felt by Kabul residents, however Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they were controlled explosions by US forces.
General McKenzie said the US “retained the right” to go after ISIS in Afghanistan and would be doing so “24/7”.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the country was mourning the loss of American troops and civilians in Kabul.
“Terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others,” he said in a statement.
“We mourn their loss. We will treat their wounds. And we will support their families in what will most assuredly be devastating grief.”
Mr Austin echoed General McKenzie’s assertion that the US would “not be dissuaded from the task at hand”.
“To do anything less — especially now — would dishonour the purpose and sacrifice these men and women have rendered our country and the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
US forces responded with gunfire soon after the explosions.
A Department of Defence official confirmed to the ABC that all Australian military personnel and other government officials had left the Afghan capital and were “safe”.
The Australian military’s Joint Operation Command (JOC) said it was “aware of reports of an explosion at Kabul Airport”.
“All ADF personnel supporting the Afghanistan evacuation are safe,” the JOC tweeted.
However the Australian military’s evacuation mission in Afghanistan has been suspended in the aftermath of the explosion.
Victoria’s plan to exit lockdown has been thrown into doubt as the state hit another concerning number of new cases today and a big spike of 26 mystery infections – which is double yesterday’s total.
There were 79 new local infections detected overnight – falling just short of yesterday’s total. Of the new 79 locally-acquired cases, 53 are linked to known outbreaks and 26 are under investigation. It is not yet clear how many of the new cases were in isolation.
It means the overall number of cases has slightly dropped, but the number of mystery cases has doubled from yesterday’s total of 13 cases.
It appears unlikely that the state’s lockdown will end on September 2, as planned, given there are still mystery cases emerging each day and a high percentage of the cases are not in isolation.
Victoria processed 50,535 test results on Thursday, when 33,611 doses of vaccine were delivered at state-run sites.
An aged care home in northern Victoria is in lockdown after a fully vaccinated staff member tested positive to coronavirus.
Echuca Community for the Aged said in a statement the Wharparilla Lodge worker was well when they last completed a shift on Friday last week.
There are more than 860 exposure sites across the state, with new sites listed in northern Victoria at Echuca, Kyabram and Mooroopna.
Emergency Management Victoria is overseeing the state’s crisis response in Shepparton, where thousands of quarantined residents are struggling to access food and medication due to the volume of workers forced into quarantine.
*Restrictions are expected to ease for people living in 11 south-east Queensland council areas this afternoon.
The ABC reports that while mask-wearing requirements going forward is unclear, social distancing rules are on track to be relaxed further as the region moves into stage three restrictions, in line with the rest of the state.
The changes come after the state has recorded consecutive days of zero community transmission and the threat from the schools outbreak of the Delta variant alleviates.
Here’s what’s expected to change this afternoon.
From 4:00pm, you will be able to have 100 people inside your home, including residents, and there will be no limit on people gathering in public spaces (both up from 30).
11 LGAs facing restrictions:
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Lockyer Valley Regional Council
Noosa Shire Council
Scenic Rim Regional Council
Somerset Regional Council
Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Social distancing rules for cafes, restaurants, pubs, galleries, indoor play areas, and places of worship — all indoor premises — will relax.
And, you’ll be able to serve yourself again at the buffet!
Restrictions will change from one person per 4 square metres to one person per 2 square metres, or 100 per cent allocated seated capacity, whichever is greater.
The one person per 2-square-metre-rule will also apply to short-term accommodation, however the density requirements do not apply in sleeping areas.
Stadiums’ capacity will increase from 75 per cent to 100 per cent, but patrons must wear a mask at all times and must be seated when eating or drinking.
The cap on 100 people at funerals and weddings is increasing.
From this afternoon, you’ll be allowed one person per 2 square metres or 200 people or 100 per cent allocated seated and ticketed capacity, whichever is greater.
All wedding guests will be able to hit the dance floor, indoors and outdoors, subject to the one person per 2-square-metre rule.
Community sport will return to normal, with the social distancing rules for spectators easing.
An announcement on whether masks will still need to be worn is expected today.
Currently you are required to carry a face mask at all times and they’re required for most indoor spaces, on public transport, taxis and ride-sharing vehicles.
In schools, masks must be worn by teachers, staff and students in high schools.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young indicated this week that she was contemplating maintaining mask rule
*The Queensland Premier’s announcement that construction had begun on a purpose-built quarantine facility 90 minutes west of Brisbane caught the Prime Minister, the local mayor and residents alike off guard, reports news.com.au.
The move is being widely criticised as a “political stunt” by Annastacia Palaszczuk and her deputy, Steven Miles.
Federal MP Peter Dutton slammed the move on Friday morning, questioning the safety of the project and flagging “a lot of local anger” in the Toowoomba region, where the facility will be built.
Local Mayor Paul Antonio said he was “surprised” by the announcement, and disappointed important questions about hospital capacity sent to the state government six months ago had still not been answered.
But, the group behind the development have told everyone to “calm down” and let them “get on with the job”.
The purpose-built facility, modelled on Howard Springs, will have 500 beds online by the end of the year, ramping up to 1000 by March next year.
Speaking from Wellcamp Airport on Thursday, Annastacia Palaszczuk said the facility was a “no-brainer”, and after eight months of back-and-forth with the Commonwealth, the State Government had reached an agreement with the Wagner Corporation to go ahead with the project.
Ms Palaszczuk said both Scott Morrison and local Mayor Paul Antonio were finding out at the same time as the press pack.
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