The United States has urged crowds trying to access Kabul airport to leave the area, as the British and Australian governments warned of a “high threat” of a “terrorist” attack.
The warnings late on Wednesday and on Thursday came as Western troops hurried to evacuate as many foreign nationals and Afghans as possible before a withdrawal deadline on August 31.
“Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the US State Department said in an alert, citing “security threats”.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs also cited an “ongoing and very high threat of terrorist attack” and told people not to travel to the airport.
The British foreign office gave similar advice, saying: “If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately”.
“There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, US Army Major General William Taylor told a news briefing that there were more than 10,000 people at the Kabul airport waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan.
The Pentagon claimed it evacuated some 19,000 people in the past 24 hours. More than 80,000 people, foreigners and Afghans, have been evacuated since August 14, the day before the Taliban swept into Kabul.
This blog is now closed. Below the updates from August 26, as they happened:
Blinken says 1,500 American citizens still in Afghanistan
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there are still about 1,500 US citizens left in Afghanistan, and that the government is working to either contact them or has already given them instructions on how to get to Kabul airport.
“Over the past 24 hours, we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely,” he said on Wednesday.
“For the remaining roughly 1000 contacts that we had, who may be Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan, we’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day, through multiple channels of communication.”
So far, Washington has evacuated 4,500 US citizens and their families as President Joe Biden’s deadline of August 31 to withdraw US troops is fast approaching.