The United States and its allies on Wednesday issued a “high terror threat” warning at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport and urged people to vacate the area, AFP reported.
An unidentified US Defence official told CNN that there was “very specific threat stream” from terror group ISIS-K, an Islamic State Group affiliate in Afghanistan, about attacks outside the airport.
The Kabul airport is the site of a massive US-led effort to evacuate Afghans as well as foreign citizens from Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover. Thousands of people have been rushing to the airport since August 15 in hopes of flying out of the conflict-torn country.
On Wednesday, the US, Australia and the United Kingdom issued similar travel alerts because of the security threat of the airport.
“Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the US State Department, said, according to AFP.
The British Foreign Office said: “There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack.”
Australia asked its citizens not to travel to the airport. “If you’re in the area of the airport, move to a safe location and await further advice,” it added.
Over 82,000 evacuated since August 14
Western troops in Kabul are ramping up evacuation efforts as the August 31 deadline for US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches.
On Wednesday, the White House said the US has flown over 82,000 people out of Kabul since August 14, CBS news reported.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that over the last 10 days, 4,500 American citizens and their families had been evacuated from Afghanistan. However, 1,500 US citizens still remain in the war-torn country.
“There is no deadline on our work to help any remaining American citizens who decide they want to leave to do so, along with the many Afghans who have stood by us over these many years and want to leave and have been unable to do so,” Blinken was quoted as saying by CBS. “That effort will continue every day past August 31.”
US options after withdrawal
Blinken said that the US was looking at several options to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of its troops, PTI reported.
“I’m sure we’ll have more on that in the coming days and weeks, but we’re looking at a variety of options,” Blinken added.
The secretary of state added that US’ priority was to safely evacuate its own citizens, Afghans as well as people from other countries, and for that, it was crucial to work with The Taliban.
“The Taliban have made clear that they have a strong interest in having a functioning airport,” Blinken added, according to ANI. “We and the rest of the international community certainly have a strong interest in that, primarily for the purpose of making sure that anyone who wants to leave can leave past the 31st using an airport.”