Video casts doubt on Pentagon account of Kabul blast – WBAY

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(Gray News) – As the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 was in its final days and U.S. forces were scrambling to get out, a bomb ripped through crowds of Afghans seeking evacuation at Kabul’s airport.

The attack on Aug. 26, 2021, killed 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.

The Pentagon has insisted that everyone who died was killed by the blast, and nobody was hit by gunfire.

But new video and new accounts to CNN of Marines opening fire and gunshot injuries in Afghan civilians call that account into question.

The video, which begins outside the airport’s Abbey Gate entrance, revealed much more shooting after the blast than the Pentagon said.

In the video, the bomb is heard detonating. The footage then stopped and picked up three seconds later.

The bombing area at Abbey Gate is pictured August 26, 2021,  in Kabul, Afghanistan, before the...
The bombing area at Abbey Gate is pictured August 26, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan, before the blast. (U.S. Central Command via AP)

Many Marines in Kabul were young, some on their first deployment. When the gunfire started, they are shown running for cover.

CNN tallied shots fired and episodes of fire based on two forensic analyses on screen.

You cannot see who is still firing, and neither Marines nor anyone else are seen firing in the video.

Short, controlled bursts of gunfire are heard in isolation.

A CS gas canister exploded in the blast, its gas choking a Marine.

And in just a moment, the total episodes of gunfire heard on the video totaled more than the three the Pentagon has said happened.

Afghans, arms raised, are seen running into the airport.

Hearing one burst of gunfire after another, the Marines wondered if the Taliban was shooting.

Two Marines said they saw the Taliban just after the blast looking as shocked as they were.

Multiple Marines who were there said they felt they were under fire. But the Pentagon has insisted for two years that no militant gunmen opened fire.

They’ve said the only shots fired here were two bursts by U.S. Marines and one from U.K. troops, once in a big burst from a nearby tower, all bursts nearly simultaneous.

Jumping forward nearly two minutes, during which there are three bursts, and they’re seen heading outside to help. That’s at least 43 shots in 11 episodes of shooting, just short of four minutes of sporadic fire.

A Marine eyewitness, who spoke to CNN anonymously, said the first big burst of gunfire at the start of the GoPro video came from where U.S. Marines were standing near the blast site.

“It was multiple. There’s no doubt about that. It wasn’t onesies and twosies. It was a mass volume of gunfire,” he said.

He said the gunfire came from down toward the Abbey Gate sniper towers, not too far from where the blast had gone off.

The Marine also said he wasn’t sure if they fired into the crowd or not, but they wouldn’t have fired into the air due to a “common understanding, no warning shots.”

CNN spoke to more than 10 other Marines anonymously about gunfire. Some felt they were shot at.

A couple even said they saw a gunman, but two others stand out who CNN were unable to reach ourselves, both injured, both admitting some memories were fuzzy, but one was clear he heard orders to fire, the other said that he opened fire himself.

“I see my platoon sergeant walk past us, saying, ‘Get back on that wall and shoot back at this *expletive.*’ So I’m like, ‘Oh we’re in a gunfight too,’” said Romel Finley, a blast survivor.

“Like all I hear is ringing and flashes going on and then I start hearing snaps, and I started realizing that’s a *expletive* dude shooting at me. I just started shooting at the dude,” said Christian Sanchez, a blast survivor.

As for the Afghans themselves, the Pentagon has insisted all injuries and deaths were from the bomb and its ball bearings.

But two years ago, CNN heard significant evidence from 19 eyewitnesses that Afghans were shot and from Afghan medical staff, counting dozens of dead from bullets.

Key was Sayed Ahmadi, head doctor at the Kabul hospital treating most of the wounded.

Back then, he was afraid to speak openly, and his account was dismissed by the Pentagon. But now he’s safe with asylum in Finland. He said he and his staff had the expertise to diagnose more than 50 dead from gunfire that night.

“Why, 170 people were killed totally, but the register, what we had, maybe 145,” with more than half killed by gunshot wounds, he said.

“I wonder, I hope one day they ask me or they call me what you saw. Like you come here and ask me, you came to Kabul and asked me about the situation. They never asked me,” he said of the American investigation into the Kabul blast.

In response to the report, the Pentagon said they would need to examine any new unseen video before they could assess it.

They said their first investigation had thoroughly looked at allegations of outgoing fire from U.S. and coalition forces following the blast. They said their review, released earlier this month, focused not on gunfire but the bomber and events leading up to the blast but found no new evidence of a complex attack and uncovered no new assertions of outgoing fire, having no materialistic impact on the original investigation.

Investigators have also not interviewed any Afghans for their reports, the Pentagon said.

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