Afghanistan: The United States and its allies warn of a “major” terrorist threat at Kabul airport | Afghanistan

The United States warned crowds trying to reach Kabul airport to leave the area, with Britain and Australia citing the “high threat” of a terrorist attack.

The three countries requested that people not try to travel to the airport anymore, an alarming call because people who have no other way to escape from it. Afghanistan Trying to save their lives and the lives of loved ones.

A flurry of near-identical travel warnings from London, Canberra and Washington late Wednesday urged people congregated in the area to evacuate and move to safety.

Security warnings about the airport were specific. “Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now must leave immediately,” the US State Department said in a warning to its citizens. Unspecified “security threats”. He advised people to call only if they “received individual instructions from a representative of the United States Government to do so”.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs said there are “The persistent and extremely high threat of a terrorist attackShe told her citizens and visa holders, “Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport. If you are in the airport area, go to a safe place and wait for further advice.”

London issued a similar warning, adding, “If you can safely leave Afghanistan by other means, do so immediately.” Earlier, British defense sources expressed particular concerns about the threat of a suicide bombing by the Islamic State group Isis-K.

Late on Wednesday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Afghans wanting to flee to the UK might be better off. “trying to reach the border” From waiting for RAF evacuation.

In a briefing to lawmakers, Wallace noted that there were only a few places left on the British rescue flights, which have evacuated more than 11,000 people from Kabul since the Taliban took over Afghanistan less than two weeks ago.

But on Thursday, after hours of warnings, an unnamed Western diplomat at the airport told Reuters that huge crowds continued to storm the airport gates.

The diplomat said evacuation flights would be active on Thursday after slowing down on Wednesday.

Securing passengers on the huge military transport planes that Washington and its allies fly from the airport every day has become an increasingly difficult and desperate task, as crowds, including stricken families, struggle to reach the airport surrounded by the Taliban.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Wednesday that as many as 1,500 Americans may await evacuation from Afghanistan, a number that indicates the United States may achieve its top priority on the Kabul Air Bridge — saving American citizens — before President Joe Biden’s deadline set on Tuesday. . next week, despite growing concerns about terrorist threats targeting the airport.

However, thousands of Afghans, at risk, still struggle to reach the airport.

On Wednesday, many Americans working on phones and pulling strings to get former Afghan colleagues, women’s rights advocates, journalists and other vulnerable Afghans to tell the Associated Press that they have seen little concrete U.S. action so far to keep these Afghans away from Taliban checkpoints and across the United States. . Controlled airport gates for promised evacuation flights.

“It is 100% up to Afghans to take these risks and try to get out of the way,” said Sunil Varghese, policy director at the International Refugee Assistance Project.

At least 20 people died in a desperate stampede in and around the airport, with many continuing to question why evacuations were not better planned.

Washington said the Taliban had given assurances that Americans, “vulnerable” Afghans and people from other countries would be allowed to leave even after the Tuesday deadline for US forces to leave.

“They have a responsibility to abide by this obligation and provide safe passage to anyone who wishes to leave the country,” Blinken told reporters.

But US allies who were part of the coalition in Afghanistan have ended their evacuations. Belgium, Poland and the Czech Republic have already completed evacuations from Kabul.

France’s European Affairs Minister, Clement Bonn, indicated that it was “highly likely” that its operations to evacuate its citizens and partners would end on Thursday.

Other European countries, including America’s allies, Germany and the United Kingdom, lobbied for a longer window, but Biden’s decision to stick to the August 31 deadline left them no choice but to plan according to the deadline.

“The mass deployment is in line and literally falls with the position of the United States, the most powerful military member of the coalition, has always been clear to us,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech to parliament on Wednesday.

She added that Germany “will continue the evacuation process as long as possible,” without specifying when the operations will end.

Russia evacuated more than 500 people aboard four military planes on Wednesday in its first airlift since the evacuations began, marking a shift in Russia’s stance on Afghanistan.

Turkey has said it will begin withdrawing the last few hundred of its soldiers at the airport. According to Reuters, the Taliban asked Turkey for technical assistance in managing the airport after the departure of foreign forces, but said the country could not have any military presence.

The White House says the airlift of Western forces has transported 82,300 Afghans, Americans and others on a mix of US, international and private flights.

Refugee groups describe a different picture of the Biden administration when it comes to many Afghans: a disorganized, barely-existing American evacuation effort leaves the most desperate to risk beatings and death at Taliban checkpoints. Some Afghans reported that US forces who controlled the gates refused to leave Kabul airport, despite agreeing to the flights.

“We still had 1,200 Afghans with visas outside the airport and we didn’t get in,” said James Mervaldez of No One Left Behind, a veterans group working to take out Afghans who worked with the U.S. military during roughly the time America was in power. 20 years of fighting in the country. We are waiting to hear from us. The government has not yet heard of it.”

Marina Legery of Ascend, a US-based nonprofit that develops fitness and leadership in Afghan girls and young women, described receiving calls from US officials telling trainees and staff in the group to go to the airport for evacuation flights, only to get them back to work. Away from the way of American troops who keep the gates shut to crowds outside.

“It is heartbreaking to see my government fail so badly,” said Leggeri, the group’s US director, who is in Italy but is in close contact with those in Kabul.

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