26 Aug 2021: Afghanistan: 'High terror threat' at Kabul airport, say US, allies
Western countries on Thursday issued a "high terror threat" at the Kabul airport, warning their citizens to leave the surrounding area. These nations have been rushing to evacuate as many citizens and Afghans as possible before the August 31 deadline agreed with the Taliban. Reportedly, dozens of Afghans have died at the Kabul airport as crowds thronged the facility to flee the Taliban's rule.
Threat: Western nations cite 'unspecified' terrorist threat
The United States and its allies on Thursday issued advisories, asking their citizens to avoid the Hamid Karzai International Airport. Citing unspecified "security threats," the US state department said, "Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately." Similar warnings were issued by Australia and Britain, urging citizens not to travel to the airport.
Fact: 'Move to safe location,' Australia warns citizens at Kabul airport
Warning about a high terror threat, Australia's Foreign Affairs department said, 'If you're in the area of the airport, move to a safe location and await further advice." The UK said, "If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately."
US: US concerned about Islamic State threat in Afghanistan
US President Joe Biden had cited a "threat" from the Islamic State's Afghanistan chapter as a reason for America's decision to adhere to the August 31 evacuation deadline. Earlier, Biden had acknowledged the IS threat, asserting that "terrorists may seek to exploit the situation." The US Embassy in Kabul has issued a warning to American citizens to avoid travel to Kabul airport without approval.
Fact: Taliban refuses deadline extension; US says otherwise
Notably, the Taliban on Tuesday ruled out an extension of the August 31 deadline, describing it as a "red line." However, the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the Taliban has made "public and private commitments" to provide a safe passage post-August 31.
IS: Islamic State desires to target US
The IS has been responsible for some of the most dreadful attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years. Despite being hardliner Sunni groups, the IS and the Taliban are rivals. The IS had suffered a major blow due to attacks from both the US and the Taliban. However, officials believe sections of the group are still active and can potentially target Americans.
Evacuation: Countries gearing up for evacuation ahead of August 31 deadline
Meanwhile, many nations are ceasing evacuation operations ahead of the August 31 deadline. Belgium said it's ending its evacuation flights after airlifting 1,100 Afghans and Europeans. France said it will end its flights on Thursday. The US, too, has maintained that it will have to complete the process before the deadline to allow the evacuation of its 6,000-plus troops, officials, and Afghan forces.
Chaos: Chaos engulfs Kabul airport; US evacuates over 80,000
With countries winding up evacuation operations, desperate Afghans are thronging the airport in their last bid to flee the harsh Taliban rule. Chaos has engulfed the Kabul airport since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan on August 15. Over 20 people have reportedly died amid chaos at the airport. Meanwhile, the Pentagon claimed it has evacuated over 80,000 foreigners and Afghans since August 14.
Background: What is happening in Afghanistan?
It has been over a week since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan after the capital city, Kabul, was captured. The group gained ground as the US withdrew its troops to end its two-decade-long 'War on Terror'. While the Taliban says it is trying to form an "inclusive government," several Afghans are rushing to flee, fearing reprisals, and the return of harsh Islamic rule.
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