Heartbreaking images early Friday show blood-soaked debris covering the area where an ISIS suicide bomber caused carnage in Afghanistan — as the death toll rose to more than 180 people.
In one image, a woman is caught in a moment of overwhelming grief as she clutches a body bag containing one of the dozens of dead killed during their desperate plight to flee Taliban rule.
Another shows a soldier looking down forlornly at an area painted red with blood in the canal surrounding Afghanistan’s main airport, where a suicide bomber is feared to have slaughtered at least 169 Afghans as well as 13 US service members trying to protect them.
Trails of blood seep down from the walls into the airport where Afghans in their thousands have tried to clamber over to catch mercy flights away to avoid a return to the brutal regime allowed to once again take power.
Abandoned shoes mark the spot where dozens if not hundreds were killed in the cowardly attack that came even after numerous forewarnings.
Elsewhere, stretches of dozens of feet of the canal appear completely covered in the abandoned possessions of those risking brutal beatdowns and firing squads to get to the airport.
What at first sight looks like trash is in fact clothing, shoes and bags discarded in the deadly panic — with some clearly belonging to young children. Large suitcases also lay in the canal, abandoned by families seeking to start a new life outside the crisis-plagued country.
Other photos from Kabul show row upon row of injured in hospital beds, as officials warn that the death toll could still rise.
Two officials on Friday told The Associated Press that 169 Afghans died, taking the tally to 182 with the 13 hero US service members in what was the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.
That toll could still rise, officials warn — with many bodies dismembered or not yet identified.
Grieving relatives also took bodies away from the scene, the official said.
At least 10 bodies lay outside Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital, where families said the mortuary could take no more. Many of the dead are unclaimed because relatives are traveling from distant provinces.
“I know it was a bad day for the president — it was a terrible day for those families,” retired Admiral James Stavridis told NBC’s “Today” show of the devastation from Thursday’s cowardly attack, the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.
Still, the crowds outside Kabul airport soon grew to their usual size — even as the US warned of ongoing threats of terror attacks ahead of next week’s end to America’s longest war.
Some swarming the airport said that Thursday’s atrocity was the very reason they were trying to flee.
“I am afraid now there will be more attacks, and I think now I have to leave,” said Jamshad, who like many Afghans uses only one name, told the AP of making his first attempt to leave.
Others acknowledged that going to the airport was risky — but said they had few choices.
“Believe me, I think that an explosion will happen any second or minute, God is my witness, but we have lots of challenges in our lives, that is why we take the risk to come here and we overcome fear,” Ahmadullah Herawi told the wire service.
President Biden vowed to “hunt” down the ISIS-K killers who have taken responsibility for the double attack.
Stavridis told the “Today” show Friday that “these kind of attacks tend to go in waves,” saying it was the “DNA” of ISIS.
“It’s quite horrific to contemplate that,” he said of the likelihood of fresh attacks.
“Let’s focus on … finding ISIS-K and putting them at the bottom of the Indian Ocean alongside bin Laden,” he said of the Taliban-protected al Qaeda leader killed in a 2011 US raid.
With Post wires