US, UK and Australia tell crowds outside airport in Afghan capital to leave area amid ‘high threat of attack by ISIL offshoot’.
Due to the possibility of an attack by an ISIL offshoot in Afghanistan, the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom have encouraged travellers to avoid the international airport in Kabul (ISKP).
The warnings on Thursday came as Western troops hurried to evacuate as many of their citizens and vulnerable Afghans as possible before a withdrawal deadline on August 31.
The US Embassy in Kabul issued a warning to US citizens not to travel to the airport and to leave immediately if they are already there. Unspecified “security threats” were cited.
The British Foreign Office issued a similar advisory, telling people in the area of the airport to “move away to a safe location”, adding, “There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack.”
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade likewise advised Australians and Afghans with passports to evacuate the region, citing a “very high risk of a terrorist attack” at the airport.
Crowds of desperate people seeking to flee Taliban rule have tried to access the Kabul airport since the Taliban captured the Afghan capital on August 15. Since the Taliban seizure, the US and its allies have been flown more than 88,000 foreigners and Afghans out of the city’s airport in one of the biggest air evacuations in history.
According to the United States military, planes are now taking off every 39 minutes.
“The countdown is on. The US and foreign forces have until Tuesday to go, and their departure marks the end of evacuation planes, according to Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis, reporting from Kabul airport. “People are rushing outside the airport to see if they can get on some of these final flights,” she said.
“We understand the US and Taliban have a deal and the Taliban are only allowed to let people through here who have foreign passports, who have visas and who have paperwork that is verified.”
Those who are cleared to leave are put on designated buses and the rest are pushed back, she said.
“In the meantime, they’re attempting to control the crowds, keeping people back and preventing them from crowding the area so that these buses can pass. They do this by shooting guns into the air, using water cannons, and abusing people.”
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