Brits told to avoid Kabul airport due to ‘high’ threat of terror attack


Crowds of people wait outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, today (Picture: Reuters)

UK nationals have been warned not to travel to Kabul airport due to the ‘ongoing and high’ threat of a terror attack.

Thousands of people have been gathering outside the airport over the last 12 days hoping to secure a place on an evacuation flight before the deadline for foreign troops to leave on August 31.

Advice from the Foreign Office updated this evening now says: ‘The security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile. There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack.

‘Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.

‘If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice.’

Desperate crowds have been trying to demonstrate their paperwork showing that they worked with British or American forces and should qualify for help since Afghanistan since it fell to the Taliban.

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Nearly 2,000 Afghan interpreters and other staff who worked for Britain still need to be evacuated.

They have been assessed as eligible under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy (Arap) and have passed security checks but remain on the ground.

The number of British citizens who still need evacuating, as well as those who hold dual citizenship, remained unclear.

It comes as it was reported that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told MPs in a call today that Afghans wanting to flee the country would be better off heading for the border and trying to make their way to a third country rather than travel to Kabul airport.

Last night, US president Joe Biden raised the prospect of an attack on the airport by Isis affiliate group Isis-Khorasan (Isis-K), which is based in Afghanistan.

He said that every day foreign forces remained in the country the risk grew, defending his decision to withdraw as soon as possible, and not extend the deadline of August 31 agreed with the Taliban.

The head of Nato Jens Stoltenberg has also said today that the terror threat at the airport was not ‘theoretical’ but ‘a real danger’.

He told the FT: ‘On the one hand we would like to have as much time as possible to get as many people out as possible.

US Marines at an evacuation control checkpoint at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Saturday (Picture: AP)

‘At the same time … if we stay beyond [August 31], especially if we don’t have at least a kind of tacit consent of the Taliban, the danger increases’.

A UK military source told the paper that the risk of an attack by Isis-K remained ‘very high’.

They said the group typically used suicide bombers, vehicle bombs and gunfire.

The updated Foreign Office travel advice for Afghanistan now warns UK nationals not to travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport due to an ‘ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack’.

The Taliban, who took control of Afghanistan last week after a quick advance, have said they will not tolerate terror groups operating in the country.

They are opposed to Isis, and have battled them in recent years.

However, the terror group is thought to have received a boost after thousands of prisoners were released from jails during the Taliban advance, including jihadi fighters.

Ajmal Sohail, a former secular Afghan politician, said they are believed to include notorious figures such as Aslam Farooqi, an Isis-K ‘mastermind’ who headed the group in the country.

Families begin to board a US Air Force evacuation flight on August 23 (Picture: EPA)

Last night, Joe Biden told reporters: ‘Every day we are on the ground is another day we know that Isis-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians.

‘Additionally, thus far, the Taliban have been taking steps to work with us so we can get our people out, but as a tenuous situation – we have already had some gunfighting break out – we run a serious risk of it breaking down as time goes on.’

Poland said today it has halted its airlift evacuations from the airport over safety concerns.

Deputy foreign minister Marcin Przydacz said: ‘After a long analysis of reports on the security situation, we cannot risk the lives of our diplomats and of our soldiers any longer.’

He said that a number of troops will remain briefly to carry out some procedures that include closing the base, he said.

Poland has used more than a dozen planes to bring hundreds of evacuees to Warsaw.

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