Afghanistan news – live: Two Isis targets killed in US drone strike, as last UK evacuation plane leaves Kabul

·32-min read

Two high-profile Isis-K targets were killed and one was wounded in a drone strike in Afghanistan – a senior US military official said today.

The strike on Friday was in retaliation to the suicide bombing and gunfire attack outside Kabul airport on Thursday that killed up to 180 people, including 13 US service members.

One of the targets killed in a compound in Jalalabad was an Isis-K planner that was believed to be “associated with potential future attacks at the airport,” an anonymous US defense official told CNN.

The US defence official said that there are fears that Isis-K will carry out more attacks on people waiting to be flown out of the airport, while Western allies wind down their evacuation missions ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

The UK’s airlift operation has ended, with the last dedicated evacuation transport for refugees now having left Kabul. The US is in the process of withdrawing its troops.

The US and UK both admit there are people left in Afghanistan they could not rescue, leaving them at the Taliban’s mercy.

Read More

What is the difference between the Taliban and Isis?

Photo of Afghan girl skipping on airport tarmac after arriving in Belgium goes viral

Biden rests head on his hands during tense exchange with Fox reporter after Kabul statement

Key points

  • UK’s last dedicated evacuation flight leaves Kabul

  • Two Isis targets killed in US drone strike

  • Taxi driver from UK and his family killed in Kabul attack

  • Woman gives birth on evacuation flight to the UK

  • American victims of suicide blast named

US says it kills Isis-K ‘planner’ in reprisal strike after deadly Kabul attack

07:39 , Jon Sharman

The US military has said it believes it an Isis-K ‘planner’ in its first reprisal strike in Afghanistan after the deadly Kabul attack that left at least 170 people, including 13 US military personnel, writes Andrew Buncombe.

Approximately 36 hours after the suicide bomb attack at Kabul left hundreds dead or wounded and Joe Biden vowed to hunt down those responsible, the US said an unmanned drone had been dispatched to attack a suspected member of Isis, that it described as a “planner”.

It did not say whether the individual was believed linked specifically to the attack on Thursday at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

US ‘kills Isis-K ‘planner’ in reprisal strike after deadly Kabul attack

US victims of Kabul blast named, as father of one hits out at Biden: ‘He turned his back on him’

07:40 , Jon Sharman

One of them was on his first deployment and looking forward to the birth of his first child in just three weeks.

Another was described by a sister as her “beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother”. A third was said to “embody the values of America – grit, dedication, service, and valour.”

The grief-wracked parents of two of the dead service members reportedly attacked Joe Biden, saying their sons had been let down by poor leadership, writes Andrew Buncombe. The mother of one of those killed said she did not apportion blame to the president, and that her son “wanted to be there”.

US victims of Kabul blast named, as father of one hits out at Biden

Three Britons among the dead at Kabul airport

07:59 , Jon Sharman

Catch up on the latest Afghanistan news as it relates to the UK

Three British nationals were among more than 180 victims killed in Thursday’s terror attack on Kabul airport, writes Andrew Woodcock and Jane Dalton.

The deaths of two adults and the child of a third Briton were announced by foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Friday evening as the RAF completed its evacuation of 13,708 people from Afghanistan ahead of the 31 August deadline for foreign forces to leave the country.

More than 1,000 former staff of UK agencies that have been left behind were being urged to make their way to countries bordering Afghanistan, as the UN refugee agency geared up for as many as half a million people fleeing the new Taliban regime in Kabul.

Two British nationals and child killed in Afghanistan terror attack

Last Italian flight from Kabul lands in Rome

08:18 , Jon Sharman

Italy's final tranche refugees from Afghanistan has landed at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport.

An air force cargo plane with 58 Afghan citizens aboard arrived on Saturday morning. Also aboard were Italy's consul and a Nato diplomat who had coordinated the rescue effort in Kabul.

Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s foreign minister, said the country was prepared to work with the UN and Afghanistan’s neighbours on what he described as the "more difficult phase."

He said that consisted of efforts to evacuate other Afghan citizens who worked with Italy's military during its 20-year presence in Afghanistan but were unable to reach Kabul airport in time for the evacuation flights. He did not say how many still were eligible for evacuation to Italy.

Rescuing those citizens "would give them the same possibility" of starting a new life outside their homeland, Mr Di Maio said in a brief statement at Rome's airport. He said the 4,890 Afghans evacuated by Italy's air force in 87 flights was the highest number of any European Union nation.

Italy's remaining soldiers left on a separate flight from Kabul on Friday night. That air force flight went to Kuwait and the troops are due back in Italy early next week.

Additional reporting by aP

Raab under fire after British embassy workers ‘left behind details of Afghan staff for Taliban to find’

08:28 , Jon Sharman

#icymi

The foreign secretary has been criticised after papers identifying seven Afghans were left behind in the British embassy in Kabul, risking their lives if found by the Taliban, writes Clea Skopeliti.

The Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee is launching an inquiry after a reporter for The Times discovered papers identifying seven Afghans on Tuesday in the embassy. After calling the contact numbers, The Times learned that some of the staff members had already been evacuated to the UK, but others had been left behind.

Raab criticised after British embassy left behind Afghans’ details

Former UK military commander warns of threat from Isis

08:47 , Jon Sharman

A former senior UK military commander has warned the affiliate of Isis in Afghanistan, Isis-K, is a threat to Britain.

General Sir Richard Barrons said it was likely the UK would have to co-operate with the Taliban following the rise of the splinter cell, due to a lack of presence on the ground in Afghanistan.

Speaking about the number of casualties in Afghanistan, he told Times Radio: "What it does do is illustrate that Isis-K is a risk to the United Kingdom, here at home, and to our interests abroad.

"We're going to find common cause with the US, and indeed I think the Taliban, in bearing down on this terrible organisation for as long as it takes to neuter them."

He added: "Before we arrived at this current catastrophic outcome, we had a diplomatic presence, we had a relationship with the Afghan intelligence organisations and we were able to work with some of the very good but now completely dissolved elements of the Afghan security architecture.

"We also had the benefit of the sort of drone eyes-in-the-sky that the US provides. And now, all we have left is recourse to this over the horizon, drones support.

"So what this actually means is we're going to end up co-operating, not just with the US, but with the Taliban in the future, in order to deal with Isis-K."

Additional reporting by PA

‘I feel ashamed’: Afghan official in hiding in Kabul describes moment Taliban took over capital

08:57 , Jon Sharman

#icymi

A senior official in the former Afghan government, in hiding in Kabul, has described the moments staff were caught off guard by the Taliban’s advance as he pleaded for help from Britain to aide his escape, writes Holly Bancroft.

Speaking to The Independent through a translator, the senior government source described how he has lost hope for himself and his family and has been desperately trying to reach out to the British embassy for help.

The worker, who was privy to senior discussions within the Afghan government, described how officials had been surprised by the speed of the Taliban advance. “At no point did they think that Kabul would fall like it did,” he said.

Afghan official in hiding in Kabul describes moment Taliban took over capital

UK to end Afghanistan evacuations today

09:16 , Jon Sharman

The final stages of the UK’s Kabul airlift is going as planned, according to the head of the armed forces who has announced the operation will end today.

General Sir Nick Carter said there were still some civilian evacuation flights coming from Kabul to the UK, but "very few now".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Sir Nick said the final stages of the evacuation were "going according to plan".

He said: "We're reaching the end of the evacuation, which will take place during the course of today, and then of course it'll be necessary to bring our troops out on the remaining aircraft.

"It's gone as well as it could do in the circumstances."

Read our full story below:

Britain’s Afghanistan evacuation mission will end today, armed forces chief says

It came as a former top military commander said Britain must work with the Taliban to bring out the hundreds of people remaining in Afghanistan who had previously worked with UK forces, and who are therefore at risk of reprisals.

General Sir Richard Barrons told Times Radio: "What we need to recognise is we are where we are and it is in our own strong, national interest to find a way to get those 1,100 or so people we have a commitment to, who are still stuck in Afghanistan, out and to co-operate with the Taliban in order to stop terrorism coming to the UK.

"We are going to have to be pragmatic, I think this will be quite a slow process, it will be conditional but it is necessary."

Opinion: I was an Afghan refugee – believe me, acts of kindness make a big difference in a crisis

09:36 , Jon Sharman

The collapse in Afghanistan that the world has witnessed over the past few days has happened more rapidly than even the Taliban themselves could have predicted. As a result, many Afghans now fear for their lives – and those of us who sought asylum the first time around not only fear for those in danger, but are being forced to also relive our own troubling past, writes Rabia Nasimi.

It goes without saying that this is a deeply gendered crisis. From access to education and employment, to health, bodily autonomy, and freedom from forced marriages and persecution – the basic human rights and very lives of women in Afghanistan are at renewed risk. Academics, political figures, journalists, and those who worked alongside US forces before their departure are also among those in particular danger.

I arrived in the UK at the age of five with my family, fleeing the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan that stretched from 1996 to 2001. Since then, I’ve had extensive involvement in running the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA), a charity founded by my father, Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi, to support refugee integration.

I was an Afghani refugee – I know acts of kindness make a big difference in a crisis

MP warns people not to try to reach Kabul airport for evacuation

09:55 , Jon Sharman

Tom Tugendhat has said people should "forget" about getting to Kabul and attempting to fly from the airport, due to the numerous dangerous checkpoints that have been installed along the motorways.

The of the foreign affairs select committee told BBC Breakfast: "Forget about getting to Kabul. You know there's 10 checkpoints between them on the motorway, let alone down the motorway, all the way to Kabul.

"You can absolutely forget about trying to get to the airport because every one of those checkpoints has a danger point where Taliban or indeed affiliated groups, drug dealers or just simply bandits could murder, and certainly have, been murdering various people."

The former army officer added he is continuing to work to get people out of the country.

He said: "I'm extremely sad about this and I very much hope that it might go beyond the August deadline but we found out a few days ago that it wasn't, so I was expecting it.

"It still leaves me extremely sad that so many of my friends have been left behind.

"What I am working on, and you'll understand I'm afraid that I'm not going to give you complete details about this, we're looking at different networks to get people into second countries, and then connecting them to high commissions and ambassadors of the United Kingdom, to get them to the UK safely."

The UK’s evacuation effort had become a sprint finish after “not exactly a sprint start”, he added.

Additional reporting by PA

Opinion: I’ve watched Joe Biden’s policy choices pave the way for the terror attack in Kabul

10:14 , Jon Sharman

There were sudden shouts of “Get down... keep down”. A suspected bomber had been spotted in the crowd. “It’s a male in a white dish dash, a red cap and a blue bag”, was the warning shouted by the British soldiers to the Americans and other foreign troops further up the road, writes Kim Sengupta.

“He’s among us”, shouted another soldier as we crouched down on the ground. An American ran over with Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) equipment in case the explosive device was designed to be triggered by a telephone call. Taliban fighters, who were standing yards away, started to back off, a few crouched down and a few whipped out their mobiles, to the alarm of the western troops.

The suspect was not found despite a search. There were other things to worry about as well; four people, all women, had been killed that morning in the crush of the crowd. Their shrouded bodies lay on the side of the road, their families huddled around weeping in grief. Three more people were to die in the course of the day.

That alert was on the same road, the first of several, outside the British base in Kabul, where the bombing took place on Thursday, killing at least 80 Afghans and 13 US troops.

I’ve watched US policy pave the way for the Kabul terror attack Kim Sengupta

UK troops heading home

10:33 , Jon Sharman

Britain is starting to bring its troops home from Afghanistan as the country's evacuation operation at Kabul airport ends.

A Royal Air Force plane carrying soldiers landed at RAF Brize Norton air base northwest of London on Saturday morning. The troops are part of a contingent of 1,000 that has been based in Kabul to help run the airlift.

Flights bringing UK citizens and Afghans have largely ended, though the head of the armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter, said there would be a "very few" more on Saturday.

Britain says it has evacuated more than 14,500 people from Kabul in the past two weeks, but that as many as 1,000 Afghans entitled to come to the UK have been left behind.

AP

One Afghan family’s astonishing escape from Kabul to a new life in America

10:52 , Jon Sharman

There was one moment, and one moment only, when he felt safe.

It was not when he managed to shoulder and shove his way inside Kabul’s seething airport, successful on the second day of trying, and only after having been forced to leave his elderly father behind, writes Andrew Buncombe.

It was not when they approached the front of a second queue, overseen by American troops, but which frequently descended into chaos as soldiers fired their weapons into the air in an attempt to control the crowds. It was not even when he and his family were squeezed inside the cargo hold of a massive C-17 Globemaster military plane.

One Afghan family’s astonishing escape from Kabul to a new life in America

Economic crisis and drought combine to threaten millions

11:11 , Jon Sharman

Hundreds of Afghans protested outside a bank in Kabul on Saturday and others formed long lines at cash machines amid an economic crisis that has seen government workers unpaid for months.

The economic crisis, which predates the Taliban takeover earlier this month, could give Western nations leverage as they urge Afghanistan's new rulers to form a moderate, inclusive government and allow people to leave after the planned withdrawal of US forces on 31 August.

Afghanistan is heavily dependent on international aid, which covered about three-quarters of the Western-backed government's budget.

The Taliban has said it wants good relations with the international community and has promised a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when it last governed the country, but many Afghans remain skeptical.

The protesters at New Kabul Bank included many civil servants demanding their salaries, which they said had not been paid for the past three to six months. They said even though banks reopened three days ago no one has been able to withdraw cash. Cash machines are still operating, but withdrawals are limited to about $200 (£145) every 24 hours, contributing to the formation of long lines.

Meanwhile, a UN agency warned that a worsening drought threatened the livelihoods of more than 7 million people.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation said Afghans were also suffering from the coronavirus pandemic and displacement from the recent fighting.

Earlier this month, the UN World Food Programme estimated that some 14 million people – roughly one out of every three Afghans – urgently needed food assistance.

Additional reporting by AP

'Not inconceivable' that UK could work with Taliban to tackle Isis, military chief says

11:30 , Jon Sharman

The UK’s military chief has said it is 'not inconceivable' that the UK could work with the Taliban to tackle Isis, writes Ross Martin-Pavitt.

Watch: 'Not inconceivable' that UK could work with Taliban to tackle Isis, military chief says

11:54 , Jon Sharman

#icymi

White House press secretary Jen Psaki swatted down calls by Republicans for Joe Biden to resign after an attack in Kabul killed 13 US service members, 169 Afghans and three Britons on Thursday.

A reporter asked Ms Psaki about the calls by Republicans for the president to resign, writes Eric Garcia.

“The backdrop here is the men and women of the US military deployed on the ground are bravely continuing to implement a mission to save lives on the ground,” she said.

Psaki swats down impeachment chatter and Kabul backlash: ‘Not the time for politics’

£1m raised for Red Cross’s Afghanistan appeal in UK

12:16 , Jon Sharman

The British Red Cross (BRC) says people in the UK have now donated £1m to its Afghanistan appeal, which helps Afghans both in their home country and after they have been brought to the UK as refugees.

The charity said on Saturday it was “overwhelmed by the kindness shown by the public”.

Its volunteers are giving supplies to refugees landing at Heathrow airport, including nappies, clothes and shoes, water and baby formula.

“People have come from a chaotic area on very long-haul flights, often in cramped conditions with little opportunity to clean and be comfortable,” said Mike Murphy, a BRC responder, in a statement.

“It’s the little things like toothpaste and a toothbrush. A pair of slippers so they can change the shoes that they’ve been wearing for the last 56 hours. They’re quite confused and very tired.

“There are lots of women, babies, children of all ages here at Heathrow. There are so many little kids who are still, amazingly, smiling, all the way through.”

Inside Afghanistan, the Red Cross’s branches run 150 health clinics across the country’s 34 provinces.

Opinion: Europe must do more to ensure that Afghan asylum seekers are not left in limbo

12:37 , Jon Sharman

“I have no memories from Afghanistan, all of my life has been in exile.” Bahar’s (not her real name) lively eyes become darker as she narrates her refugee journey, which started 15 years ago.

Despite being an exceptionally bright student, fluent in English and Greek with a passion for maths, it’s unlikely Bahar will be allowed to attend a Greek university next year. She and her family have been stranded on the Greek island of Lesvos for the last three years, waiting for a positive asylum decision inside a refugee camp, write Emily Venturi and Anna Iasmi Vallianatou.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan aggravates the uncertainty that many Afghan asylum seekers in Europe face. Families such as Bahar’s live with the fear of a possible return to Afghanistan while waiting for their cases to be decided.

Opinion: Europe must do more to ensure Afghan asylum seekers are not left in limbo

UK ambassador to Afghanistan echoes announcement of end to airlift

13:10 , Jon Sharman

The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, has said it is "time to close this phase" of the evacuation operation from Kabul airport.

In a video posted on Twitter, Sir Laurie – who has remained in Afghanistan processing refugees – said: "The team here have been working until the very last moment to evacuate British nationals, Afghans and others at risk.

"Since 13 August, we've brought nearly 15,000 people to safety, and about 1,000 military, diplomatic, civilian personnel have worked on Operation Pitting in Kabul, many, many more elsewhere.

"Thursday's terrorist attack was a reminder of the difficult and dangerous conditions in which Operation Pitting has been done. And sadly I attended here yesterday the ceremony to pay our respects to the 13 US soldiers who died.

"It's time to close this phase of the operation now, but we haven't forgotten the people who still need to leave. We'll continue to do everything we can to help them. Nor have we forgotten the brave, decent people of Afghanistan. They deserve to live in peace and security."

Pen Farthing’s Afghan staff left behind as animal charity boss evacuated from Kabul with dogs and cats

13:44 , Jon Sharman

A former Royal Marine who founded an animal shelter in Kabul has been forced to leave staff behind in Afghanistan as he evacuates the crisis-hit country with 173 cats and dogs, writes Celine Wadhera.

Staff of the animal charity Nowzad, who helped bring pets to the airport in a convoy of two cattle trucks, were prevented from entering the military-controlled area at Kabul airport despite having been granted visas for the UK.

Mr Farthing told The Sun armed Taliban militants prevented the Afghan staff from boarding the private chartered flight to Britain.

Afghan staff left behind as Pen Farthing evacuated from Kabul with dogs and cats

UK’s last Afghan evacuation flight leaves Kabul

13:46 , Jon Sharman

The final UK evacuation flight purely for Afghan nationals has left Kabul airport, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

Any further flights which will now leave Kabul under the UK's evacuation operation will have UK diplomatic and military personnel on board.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the final flight purely for evacuations under Operation Pitting had departed from Kabul.

It is understood any further flights would be able to transport those still needing evacuation, but would now also include personnel travelling back to the UK.

Full story:

UK’s last evacuation flight for Afghans has left Kabul, Ministry of Defence says

Taliban tightens control around Kabul airport

14:33 , Jon Sharman

The Taliban has deployed extra forces around Kabul's airport to prevent large crowds from gathering after a devastating suicide attack two days earlier, as foreign powers’ airlift winds down ahead of Joe Biden’s 31 August withdrawal deadline.

New checkpoints have appeared on roads leading to the airport, some manned by uniformed Taliban fighters with Humvees and night-vision goggles captured from Afghan security forces.

Areas where large crowds of people had gathered over the past two weeks in the hope of fleeing the country following the Taliban takeover are now largely empty.

A suicide attack on Thursday by Isis-K killed 169 Afghans, three Britons and 13 US service members, and there are fears the group may strike again.

Many western nations have completed their evacuation operations ahead of Tuesday's deadline for the withdrawal of all US forces.

Sources in Kabul said Taliban personnel claimed to have been told by the Americans to only let US passport-holders through a final checkpoint close to the airport.

On Saturday, the Taliban fired warning shots and deployed some coloured smoke on a road leading to the airport, sending dozens of people scattering, according to a video circulating online.

AP

Merkel and Johnson seek common approach on Afghanistan from G7

14:52 , Jon Sharman

Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel discussed the situation in Afghanistan on Saturday and agreed on the need for international aid and a common approach by the G7 to the future government of Afghanistan, Downing Street has said.

"The prime minister and chancellor resolved to work, alongside the rest of the G7, to put in place the roadmap on dealing with any new Afghan government discussed at last week's leaders' meeting," Johnson's office said in a statement.

"The prime minister stressed that any recognition and engagement with the Taliban must be conditional on them allowing safe passage for those who want to leave the country and respecting human rights," the statement added.

Mr Johnson was reportedly forced to “bounce” Joe Biden into attending last week’s emergency G7 summit on Afghanistan after the UK was blindsided by the speed of the planned American withdrawal.

Mr Biden has taken a unilateral approach to the draw-down thus far.

Boris Johnson branded ‘flippant’ and ‘uncaring’ over footage of visit to Afghanistan crisis centre

15:19 , Jon Sharman

Boris Johnson is facing criticism after footage emerged of him talking to employees at the government's Afghanistan crisis centre, writes Jon Stone.

The prime minister's approach was branded "flippant" and "uncaring" by critics, some of whom likened the footage to to an awkward scene from a fly-on-the-wall comedy.

In the video, aired on the BBC's Newsnight programme, the prime minister approaches an employee and says: "Are you the guys inundated with all the emails from everywhere in the world saying, please help my son, mother to get out of Afghanistan? I've had a few of those."

Boris Johnson branded ‘uncaring’ over footage of visit to Afghanistan crisis centre

Drone strike did not hit senior Isis-K figure, US defence official says

15:47 , Jon Sharman

A US drone strike on Friday targeting an Isis-K planner was not believed to have hit a senior militant, an American official has said. Reuters reported the official as also saying that future military operations were possible.

Separately, the number of US troops at Kabul airport has fallen below 4,000, the official said, down from a peak of 5,800.

Woman gives birth on evacuation flight to the UK

16:17 , Lamiat Sabin

An Afghan woman on board an evacuation flight to Britain gave birth to a baby girl early today with assistance from the cabin crew, Turkish Airlines said in a statement.

Soman Noori, 26, started having contractions during the Turkish Airlines flight from Dubai to Birmingham, and gave birth as the plane flew at an altitude of 10,000 metres (33,000 ft) in Kuwaiti airspace.

Ms Noori and her baby, who was named Havva, the Arabic and Turkish form of the name Eve, were both in good health, the statement said.

Her and her husband Taj Moh Hammat, 30, now have three children – two sons and a daughter.

The plane, which was carrying Afghan citizens who had worked with Britain in Afghanistan, landed in Kuwait as a precaution but later continued on to its destination, Turkish Airlines said.

Two Isis targets killed in US drone strike

16:28 , Lamiat Sabin

Two high-profile Isis-K targets were killed and one was wounded in yesterday’s drone strike in Afghanistan – according to a senior US military official.

The strike was in retaliation to the suicide bombing attack outside Kabul airport on Thursday that killed up to 180 people, including 13 US service members.

One of the targets killed in a compound in Jalalabad was an Isis-K planner that was believed to be “associated with potential future attacks at the airport,” a US defense official told CNN today.

US beginning to withdraw troops from Kabul

16:40 , Lamiat Sabin

US troops have begun their withdrawal from Kabul airport, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters today.

As of today, there were fewer than 4,000 US troops at Kabul airport, a US official – who declined to be identified – told Reuters, down from 5,800 at the peak of the evacuation mission.

The winding down of operations comes after the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the final UK evacuation flight for Afghan nationals has left Kabul.

The MoD added that any further departing flights under the UK’s evacuation operation will have UK diplomatic and military personnel on board.

The deadline for withdrawal of all troops of Afghanistan is on Tuesday.

Taxi driver from UK and his family killed in Kabul attack

16:54 , Lamiat Sabin

A British taxi driver, his wife, and two of their four children were killed in the Kabul airport attack.

Mohammad Niazi, a 29-year-old taxi driver, travelled to Afghanistan via Azerbaijan earlier this week in the hope to bring his family to the UK.

His wife, who was in the process of completing her UK visa application, and their two young daughters were also killed in the attack on Thursday by Isis-K militants that killed up to 180 people.

Their two-year-old son and another daughter are being treated in hospital for their injuries.

Here is the full report:

British taxi driver Mohammad Niazi, his wife, and two children killed in Kabul attack

Afghan athletes finally reach Tokyo for Paralympics

17:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Two Afghan athletes arrived in Tokyo today to compete in the 2020 Paralympics after one of them made an appeal for help to leave Kabul.

Taekwondo athlete Zakia Khudadadi and track athlete Hossain Rasouli were evacuated from the Afghan capital a week ago and landed in Tokyo on a flight from Paris.

Ms Khudadadi is Afghanistan’s first-ever woman to compete in the Paralympics.

The pair were due to arrive in Tokyo on 17 August but had been unable to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban risen to power.

Ms Khudadadi said in her video appeal: “I request from you all, that I am an Afghan woman and as a representative of Afghan women ask for you to help me.”

Paralympic officials had said initially that the Afghan athletes would be unable to attend the Games, which started on 24 August and promised to help them participate in the next Games in 2024 in Paris.

“That announcement kickstarted a major global operation that led to their safe evacuation from Afghanistan ... and now their safe arrival in Tokyo,” International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons said in a statement.

Reporting by Reuters

Taliban wants West to maintain ties with Afghanistan

17:40 , Lamiat Sabin

The Taliban is appealing to Western nations to maintain diplomatic ties with Afghanistan, according to Reuters.

A spokesman for the group said that solutions are being worked on to sort out the country’s severe economic problems.

It comes after Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said today that the group wants to have “good trade and economic relations” with India, in a video published by The Independent’s Urdu website.

Taliban leaders to say if women will serve in government

17:50 , Lamiat Sabin

A Taliban spokesman said it is “difficult to anticipate” whether women will be part of Afghanistan’s new cabinet.

The final decision on the government will be made by the leaders of the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters.

The complete cabinet will be announced within a week, he said.

The Taliban has appointed governors and police chiefs in 33 of the 34 Afghan provinces, the spokesman added.

Taliban condemns US airstrike in eastern Afghanistan

18:00 , Lamiat Sabin

A Taliban spokesman said that the US should have informed the US before conducting an airstrike in that killed two Isis-K militants in Afghanistan.

Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters that it was “a clear attack on Afghan territory” and that “two people were killed, and two women and a child were wounded” by the drone strike.

The airstrike killed two and wounded one high-profile Isis-K targets in a compound in Jalalabad, a senior US military official has said.

The strike was in retaliation to the suicide bombing attack outside Kabul airport on Thursday that killed up to 180 people, including 13 US service members.

One of the targets killed was an Isis-K planner that was believed to be “associated with potential future attacks at the airport,” a US defense official told CNN today.

France in talks with Taliban over more possible evacuations

18:20 , Lamiat Sabin

French President Emmanuel Macron said today that France was holding preliminary discussions with the Taliban about the possible evacuation of more people from Afghanistan.

He said France was also discussing with Qatar how it might re-establish a pathway for Afghan evacuations, though nothing was yet certain.

Mr Macron spoke in Baghdad where he was attending a summit with several Middle Eastern leaders,

He told a news conference: “We have begun having discussions, which are very fragile and preliminary, with the Taliban on the issue of humanitarian operations and the ability to protect and repatriate Afghans who are at risk.”

The French government said on Friday it had finished its evacuation operation from Kabul in line with Tuesday’s deadline set by US President Joe Biden, but would continue to help those who needed protection to leave Afghanistan.

UK and Germany seek common G7 approach on Taliban

18:40 , Lamiat Sabin

Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel today agreed on the need for international aid and a common approach by the G7 to the future Taliban government of Afghanistan.

Mr Johnson’s office said in a statement: “The Prime Minister and Chancellor resolved to work, alongside the rest of the G7, to put in place the roadmap on dealing with any new Afghan government discussed at last week’s leaders’ meeting.

“The Prime Minister stressed that any recognition and engagement with the Taliban must be conditional on them allowing safe passage for those who want to leave the country and respecting human rights.”

German Chancellor Ms Merkel also spoke to Dutch PM Mark Rutte.

Her office said Ms Merkel, Mr Johnson and Mr Rutte were all agreed that organising the departure of nationals, local support staff and Afghans in need of protection was still a top priority amid the worsening security situation at Kabul airport.

American troops killed in airport attack named

19:00 , Lamiat Sabin

The Pentagon has released the names of the 13 American service members killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport.

All but one of the US troops that have died were aged 25 and under.

The 11 Marines are:

Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah

Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts

Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California

Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California

Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska

Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana

Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas

Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri

Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming

Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California

Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California

Also killed were Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee.

The Pentagon said today that their remains were being flown to the US.

Second known British victim of airport attack identified

19:10 , Lamiat Sabin

The second known British victim of the Kabul airport attack has been identified as 60-year-old Musa Popal.

Mr Popal had left his home in north London at the end of May to fly to Afghanistan to visit family.

He was the owner of a shop in Edgware called Madeena Supermarket, which he ran with his children.

His son Hidayat told Sky News his father moved to the UK in 1999 and was a British passport holder.

Mr Popal’s grandson, an Afghan national, is still missing after the suicide bomb blast by Isis-K militants that killed about 180 people.

Mr Popal’s wife and other children are still in Afghanistan and have been unable to leave, Hidayat said.

The other known British victim is Mohammad Niazi, a 29-year-old taxi driver, who had been killed alongside his wife, who was in the process of completing her UK visa application, and two of their four children.

He had travelled to Afghanistan via Azerbaijan earlier this week in the hope to bring his family to the UK.

Mr Niazi and his wife’s two-year-old son and other daughter are being treated in hospital for their injuries.

Kabul airport to be under Taliban’s total control ‘very soon’

19:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuter that Kabul airport would be under the group’s complete control “very soon”.

“It is a bit too early to decide whether we will need Turkey or Qatar’s help to operate Kabul airport,” he said.

Taliban forces have sealed off the airport to most Afghans hoping to be evacuated from the country by Western nations, who are winding down evacuation efforts ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

A recap of today’s main developments

19:40 , Lamiat Sabin

  • UK and US are winding down evacuation efforts ahead of Tuesday’s deadline

  • Taliban condemns US airstrike in eastern Afghanistan that killed two Isis-K militants

  • Two British victims of Kabul airport attack identified at Musa Popal and Mohammad Niazi

  • 13 US troops died in the airport attack have been named, all but one aged 25 and under

  • Hundreds of Afghans protest outside bank in Kabul over cash shortage and unpaid wages

  • Afghan woman gives birth on Turkish Airlines flight to the UK with help of cabin crew

  • Two athletes, including first-ever Afghan woman Paralympian, reach Tokyo for Games

  • Kabul airport to be under Taliban’s total control ‘very soon’, says group’s spokesman

  • France in talks with Taliban over more possible evacuations, Emmanuel Macron said

Biden vows more attacks against Isis-K

21:05 , Lamiat Sabin

US President Joe Biden promised further strikes against the Islamic State in Afghanistan in retaliation for a deadly bombing outside Kabul airport.

He warned that the situation on the ground continued to be “extremely dangerous.”

Mr Biden said in a statement: “This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay.

“Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours. I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection.”

21:07 , Lamiat Sabin

That’s it for today’s live coverage of Afghanistan. Thanks for following.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting