Afghanistan news – live: Three children killed after US airstrike hits ‘suicide bombers’ near Kabul airport

·35-min read

A rocket attack in Kabul hit a residential neighbourhood and killed a child on Sunday, according to police in Afghanistan. The blast hit some distance northwest of Hamid Karzai International Airport, where the US military is withdrawing its forces.

Meanwhile the US says it has carried out an airstrike against an Isis-K suicide bomber in a vehicle who planned to target the airport. Details on both the rocket attack and US bombing raid remain sparse.

The violence comes as a former top army officer accused the UK government of being “asleep on watch” in relation to the protection of Afghans who helped British soldiers during their time in the country. General Lord Richard Dannatt said the “issue has been on politicians' desks for two to three years”.

Earlier, Boris Johnson praised British troops who aided in the Operation Pitting evacuation flights, and those who have served during the UK’s two-decade presence in Afghanistan.

He said service members had worked well over the last two weeks to bring out 15,000 people, despite Joe Biden’s “remorseless” withdrawal deadline.

Read More

Afghan interpreters left to face wrath of Taliban after Home Office rules them ‘danger’ to UK security

Pen Farthing ‘left expletive-laden message’ accusing government aide of blocking Kabul evacuation flight

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

Key points

  • Three children killed in earlier drone strike — Associated Press

  • TV show host watched over by Taliban militants on-air

  • Taliban formally bans co-education

  • US airstrike against suicide bomber who planned to target airport

  • Child killed in Kabul rocket attack, police chief says

  • Final British flight leaves Kabul, ending 20-year UK military involvement in Afghanistan

Final British flight leaves Kabul, ending 20-year UK military involvement in Afghanistan

07:29 , Jon Sharman

Two decades of engagement in Afghanistan by British troops came to an end on Saturday night as the last military and diplomatic personnel left Kabul airport, ending the largest evacuation mission since the Second World War.

Operation Pitting airlifted more than 15,000 British nationals and allied personnel to safety in little under a fortnight, write Jon Stone and Alastair Jamieson.

But thousands more remain behind, to an uncertain future. They include dozens of Afghan interpreters who worked for the British army but have been told they will not be allowed into the UK because they are a “danger to [national] security”.

Final British flight leaves Kabul, ending 20-year military inolvement

Biden: Another terror attack against US forces in Afghanistan ‘highly likely’

07:30 , Jon Sharman

Joe Biden has warned that another terrorist attack in Afghanistan is “highly likely” in the next 24 to 36 hours, writes Nathan Place.

“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” the president said in a statement.

“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, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground.”

Biden: Another attack in Kabul ‘highly likely’ in 36 hours

Reports of thousands of urgent Afghanistan emails left unread by Foreign Office

07:51 , Jon Sharman

The Observer reports that the Foreign Office (FCDO) left unread thousands of emails relating to urgent Afghan pleas for help unread – including messages from government ministers and the leader of the opposition.

The inbox regularly had 5,000 unread messages and some went unopened for days, according to the paper.

It quoted a whistleblower as saying: “It’s not that they are the emails which haven’t been actioned. It’s not even that they are emails which haven’t been processed and put into a spreadsheet. It’s that no one has actually opened the email.”

Labour MPs reacted with outrage to the report. Tulip Siddiq tweeted: “Very rarely am I completely lost for words.”

And Abena Oppong-Asare said: “I have tears of rage in my eyes. Over the last week my team have gone above and beyond having the most difficult conversations imaginable with constituents who have lived through hell. They all deserve so much better than this. How could they have not prioritised these cases?”

There are fears that some 1,100 people abandoned by the UK in Afghanistan are now at risk from the Taliban. However, according to The Observer’s report, that figure could be higher because many of the emails sent to the FCDO concerned multiple cases.

The department said in a statement: “This has been the biggest and most challenging evacuation in living memory – a team effort that would not have been possible without the Foreign Office.”

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The fact that so many emails have simply gone unopened is not the fault of civil servants but of government ministers who have been missing in action during this whole crisis.

“MPs and their staff have been hearing harrowing stories from so many people we should have taken care of but who have been abandoned to the Taliban.”

Boris Johnson issues statement on Afghanistan, calling US withdrawal plan ‘remorseless’

08:10 , Jon Sharman

Boris Johnson has lashed out obliquely at Joe Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan crisis in a video message referencing the US president’s “remorseless deadline” for withdrawal.

The PM also heaped praise on Britain’s armed forces, who he said “didn’t flinch, they kept calm” even as Isis attacked Kabul airport. He lauded the “colossal exertions” of the UK military and diplomatic officials in airlifting some 15,000 people out of Afghanistan.

Mr Johnson insisted, speaking directly to wounded soldiers and the families of servicemembers killed over the last 20 years, that “your suffering, your hardship, were not in vain”.

The UK presence in Afghanistan has prevented terror attacks from being launched and allowed some 3.6 million girls to get an education, he said.

Here’s our full story:

We didn’t want to leave Afghanistan this way, Boris Johnson says

But the PM admitted that “we would not have wished to leave in this way”. He said: “We have to recognise that we came in with the United States, in defence and support of the United States.

“The United States military did the overwhelming bulk of the fighting and, though we now leave with the United States, we will remain represented in the region. We are doubling our humanitarian development assistance this year to £286m.

“Together with our allies in America and Europe and around the world, we will engage with the Taliban, not on the basis of what they say, but what they do.”

Afghanistan’s returning theocratic rulers will have to protect women and let people leave safely if they want diplomatic recognition, the PM said.

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Exclusive: Afghan interpreters left to face wrath of Taliban after Home Office rules them ‘danger’ to UK security

08:29 , Jon Sharman


Dozens of Afghan interpreters who worked for the British Army have been told they will not be allowed into the UK because they are a “danger to [national] security,” The Independent can reveal.

The men had been cleared for relocation here by the Ministry of Defence following years of service, writes Colin Drury.

But as the Taliban began to capture large swathes of the country last month, they and their families received letters from the Home Office telling them they would not be allowed into the UK on the grounds they posed a risk.

Afghan interpreters left behind after Home Office rules them ‘danger’ to security

Taliban ready to take control of Kabul airport

08:48 , Jon Sharman

US forces are in the final phase of leaving Kabul, ending two decades of involvement in Afghanistan, and just over 1,000 civilians at the airport remain to be flown out before troops withdraw, a Western security official said on Sunday.

The country's new Taliban rulers has engineers and technicians prepared to take control of the airport, said an official from the Islamic extremist group that has swept across Afghanistan, crushing the Washington-backed government.

“We are waiting for the final nod from the Americans to secure full control over Kabul airport as both sides aim for a swift handover,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The Western security official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters a date and time for the end of the operation was yet to be decided.


UK’s armed forces let down by politicians, says MP

09:07 , Jon Sharman

Conservative MP and veteran Tobias Ellwood has said the UK has "very little to show" for the 20 years it has spent in Afghanistan.

The chair of the Commons defence select committee told LBC: "Our armed forces performed so valiantly but they were let down by their political masters.

"We lacked the strategy, the statecraft, the patience to see through, and the manner of our departure is a humiliation, a confirmation of our diminished resolve, and our adversaries will not be slow to exploit it."

He warned that "terrorism will raise its ugly face again" and "until we defeat this ideology, we can have as many drone strikes as we like, we can invade as many countries as we like, we will never win".

Mr Ellwood added: "Unfortunately, we've made the situation worse, by absenting ourselves from the very place where it's now very easy for terrorist groups to do their work."


Isis-K: Terrorist group that claimed Kabul bombing is threat to UK, warns former army general

09:26 , Jon Sharman

The Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, Isis-K, poses a threat to Britain, a former top UK general has said.

Former military commander General Sir Richard Barrons spoke about the recent attack on Kabul airport, which killed 170 Afghans, two British adults, the child of a British national, and 13 U.S. service members.

Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) claimed responsibility for the coordinated suicide bomb and gun assault on Thursday, writes Charlene Rodrigues.

Isis-K poses threat to Britain, warns former army general

Ministers ‘asleep on watch’ while Afghans at risk, ex-army chief says

09:45 , Jon Sharman

A former head of the British Army has said it was "unfathomable why it would appear that the government was asleep on watch" in relation to the protection of Afghans who helped soldiers and officials.

Speaking on Times Radio, General Lord Richard Dannatt said: "On the particular issue of those who we knew were in danger, people who had worked for us, interpreters, former locally-engaged civilians, this issue has been in the media.

"This issue has been on politicians' desks for two to three years and, certainly, it's been there during the course of this year.

"I mean, you might remember, back in July, 45 senior officers wrote to the government, an open letter to the government, saying there are people we are concerned about and if we don't do the right thing, their blood will be on our hands. It is unfathomable why it would appear that the government was asleep on watch.

"I think the issue of Afghanistan sat on the backburner. Maybe it started to come forward. But then, suddenly, when the Taliban took over the country in the precipitate fashion in which they did, it fell off the cooker straight onto the kitchen floor and we've ... had this chaotic extraction.

"We should have done better, we could have done better. It absolutely behoves us to find out why the government didn't spark up faster."


Afghan baby girl born on evacuation flight destined for Birmingham

10:04 , Jon Sharman

An Afghan mother fleeing to the UK gave birth to a baby girl on an evacuation flight destined for Birmingham, writes Charlene Rodrigues.

Soman Noori, 26, started having contractions during the Turkish Airlines flight from to Birmingham. She gave birth at an altitude of 10,000m (33,000ft) in Kuwaiti airspace.

Afghan baby girl born on evacuation flight bound for UK

Foreign Office ‘ignored thousands of pleas to help Afghans’

10:23 , Jon Sharman

Thousands of emails sent by MPs and charities highlighting Afghans and others who may have been eligible for rescue from the Taliban went unread by the Foreign Office, according to a report.

Over the course of the last week, an email address where politicians and the public were encouraged to send cases regularly had 5,000 unread messages, a whistleblower at the department told The Observer.

The account was being overseen by the team coordinating the withdrawal from Kabul airport, and claims of unopened emails raises the prospect that the true figure for those who should have been granted sanctuary in the UK but were left behind to face the Taliban is much higher than the official estimate of just over 1,000, writes Tom Batchelor.

Foreign Office ‘ignored thousands of pleas to help Afghans’

Pen Farthing threatened to ‘destroy’ government aide in expletive-laden tirade about Kabul evacuation flight

10:33 , Jon Sharman

The founder of an animal shelter in Afghanistan has reportedly left an irate message for a British government aide accusing him of “blocking” efforts to have his staff and animals evacuated, writes Lamiat Sabin.

But supporters of ex-Royal Marine Paul “Pen” Farthing, who had set up the Nowzad shelter in the mid-2000s after serving in the British Army, have slammed the leaking of the audio message as a smear attempt.

After the Taliban’s return to power this month, Mr Farthing attempted to get hundreds of cats and dogs, his staff, and himself to the UK – in what is known as “Operation Ark”.

Pen Farthing ‘left expletive-laden message for government aide’ over Kabul evacuation

Commander of Operation Pitting said ‘we knew we would fall short'

10:52 , Jon Sharman

Britain knew its evacuation efforts would fall short, according to the commander of Operation Pitting.

Vice-Admiral Ben Key, chief of joint operations, said on Sunday the operation had been conducted under the United States’ rapid timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He said: “There has been a phenomenal effort achieved in the last two weeks. And I think we always knew that somewhere we would fall just short.

“So, this isn't a moment of celebration for us at all, this is a moment to mark a tremendous international effort to evacuate as many people as we could in the time available.

“That sense of sadness that we haven't done all we would have wished and we will continue to work ... in the future with the next leadership of Afghanistan, with the Taliban, and others to make sure those who would wish to come back to his country continue to have an opportunity to do so.

“Sadly, we have just not been able to evacuate them under this framework.”

He added: “Though the United Kingdom's Operation Pitting finishes today, of course the United States are still engaged in their own withdrawal and I would be very nervous in saying we had completed a successful withdrawal from Afghanistan until all our allies and partners have returned.

“The United States has provided the framework for security in Kabul as part of a huge international effort and so operations continue even if the UK's particular contribution concludes today.”

Vice-Admiral Key continued: "Am I optimistic for the future? I think I watch with interest. I am hopeful the investment we have made will grow into greater things, but I don't think there's any of us would say the last 20 years have not been worth it."

On the evacuation effort, he said: “Of course we would have liked (more time) because then we could have brought more people out.

“It would have allowed us to pull in those people who we know were still trying to get across from the city to the airport.

“It would have given us a chance to really make sure we had reached out to those who had helped us so wonderfully and courageously over the last 20 years.

“But the truth is no more time was granted to us by the Taliban, who were very clear that by the end of August not only had the evacuation had to be completed but we, the western militaries, had all withdrawn as well.”


Ministers ‘missing in action’ over Afghanistan evacuation chaos, Labour claims

11:11 , Jon Sharman

Labour has accused government ministers of being “missing in action” over the crisis in Afghanistan following reports that thousands of people who were eligible for evacuation from Kabul were left behind this week, writes Conrad Duncan.

As the UK’s involvement in the 20-year military campaign comes to an end, it has been reported that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is being blamed over a lack of escape routes from the country.

The Sunday Times reported claims that up to 9,000 people who may have been eligible to escape - such as women, journalists, and aid workers - were not able to leave Afghanistan.

Ministers ‘missing in action’ over Afghanistan evacuation chaos, Labour claims

Taliban to purge Afghanistan’s education system of anything ‘against Islam'

11:30 , Jon Sharman

Former officials and lecturers at Afghanistan universities have called on the Taliban to maintain and upgrade the country's education system instead of creating a new one.

Former minister of higher education Abas Basir said Sunday at a conference on higher education held by the Taliban that starting over is a mistake made by previous governments.

He says: "Lets not reject everything, starting a new system, we should work more on what we already have."

Taliban caretaker higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani criticized the current education system founded by the international community, saying that religious education was considered insignificant.

"World tried to take religion out of scientific education which harmed the people," Mr Haqqani said. He added that "every item against Islam in the educational system will be removed."

The Taliban policy on women's education was not clear but Tariq Kamal, chancellor of a private university, said women were very interested in some higher education fields and "we need the guidance of Taliban leadership on them." Mr Kamal spoke for private universities in Afghanistan.


Opinion: With UK troops having left, it’s critical a humanitarian withdrawal does not follow in Afghanistan

11:49 , Jon Sharman

The scenes around Kabul airport have been a terrible and tragic reminder of the dangerous reality which Afghans who remain in Afghanistan face.

Thursday’s horrific attacks on people at the airport, which claimed three British lives, have made the situation even clearer.

As the final planes of evacuees take off, with UK forces having departed, it is critical that a humanitarian and diplomatic withdrawal does not follow, writes Melanie Ward.

Opinion: Support for Afghanistan has to continue after the troop withdrawal

‘Underhand’ Home Office website deterring Afghan asylum seekers from journeying to UK

12:08 , Jon Sharman

Afghan asylum seekers are being discouraged from attempting journeys towards Britain by a government website posing as an unbiased source of “free, reliable and important information”, writes Lizzie Dearden.

Labour called the website “dishonourable and underhand”, as the head of the armed forces said hundreds of Afghan civilians who are eligible to come to the UK were left behind when the last evacuation flight left Kabul.

General Sir Nick Carter admitted on Saturday that “we haven't been able to bring everybody out” and said the number of eligible Afghans remaining in the country was in the “high hundreds”.

Fake Home Office website deterring Afghan refugees from journeying to UK

Opinion: The Taliban has taken Afghanistan – but can it keep control?

12:37 , Jon Sharman

To anyone else, he was a nondescript middle-aged Afghan man driving a 20-year-old Toyota Corolla along the highway from Baghlan to Mazar-i-Sharif, writes Borzou Daragahi.

But to the Taliban scouts and operatives watching the road that day in 2019, he was special. They somehow knew he was a senior officer of the Afghan National Directorate of Security—the Kabul government’s intelligence branch.

The rocket-propelled grenade that struck him near Pol-e-Khomri must have seemed like it came out of nowhere. It was followed by a spray of gunfire. Minutes later, the man’s remains were discovered on the road by a convoy of Afghan army recruits that the Taliban didn’t bother with, according to an account provided by the dead man’s son, who has now fled into exile in Turkey.

“At the time, even I didn’t know what he did for a living,” says the 21-year-old. “But the Taliban did.

The Taliban has taken Afghanistan – but can it keep control? | Borzou Daragahi

Government ‘asleep on watch’ over protecting Afghans, ex-British Army chief says

12:52 , Andy Gregory

A former head of the British Army has accused the government of being "asleep on watch" in relation to the protection of Afghans who helped UK soldiers and officials, our policy correspondent Jon Stone reports.

General Lord Richard Dannatt said the government's approach was “unfathomable”, after Boris Johnson expressed regret that some people eligible to be evacuated could be left behind in the hurried evacuation.

Government ‘asleep on watch’ over protecting Afghans, ex-British Army head says

UK ambassador to Afghanistan speaks after flying back to Britain

13:07 , Jon Sharman

Sir Laurie Bristow, the UK ambassador to Afghanistan who stayed in Kabul to help process transport for refugees, arrived back in the UK on Sunday, on one of the last flights out.

Speaking on the runway, Sir Laurie vowed to continue to help British nationals and Afghans who remain in the country and still need help.

"We've had to leave Afghanistan for now and the embassy will operate from Qatar for the time being," he said.

"We will continue to stand by the people of Afghanistan, working on humanitarian, diplomatic and security work, and above all bringing to the UK Afghans and British nationals who still need our support, and we will be putting pressure on the Taliban to allow safe passage for those people.

"We will reopen the embassy as soon as we can. We will do everything we can to protect the gains of the last 20 years and above all to help the Afghan people achieve the security and the peace that they deserve."

He also said: "It's been an extraordinary, intense effort by the Foreign Office, the military and Border Force together to bring over 15,000 people to safety in under two weeks."

Additional reporting by PA

Biden heads to Delaware to honour US soldiers killed in airport attack

13:20 , Andy Gregory

Joe Biden is heading to Dover Air Force Base on Sunday to honour members of the US military who died in the suicide bomb attack which killed at least 92 people, not including 13 American troops, at Kabul airport last week, Reuters reports, citing the White House.

The US president is reportedly expected to receive the service members’ remains that were being flown home. Families of those troops are also expected to be present.

Terrorist groups in Afghanistan ‘do not possess’ capabilities necessary for attack in foreign nation, White House adviser says

13:34 , Andy Gregory

US intelligence officials believe the “relevant terrorist groups” in Afghanistan “do not possess advanced external plotting capabilities” necessary for launching an attack in a foreign country, a White House national security adviser has said.

Asked on CBS’s Face the Nation whether any future attacks such as the suicide bombing at Kabul airport could occur outside of Aghanistan, Jake Sullivan told the broadcaster: “First of all, it is something that we are very closely tracking, whether there are any threats to the US homeland or to US interests anywhere else in the world.

“What the intelligence community has assessed to date is that the relevant terrorist groups in Afghanistan do not possess advanced external plotting capabilities, but of course, they could develop them. And that is something that we need to be very focused on.

“What we have proven over time in other countries, is that we are capable of suppressing the terrorism threat, including external plotting capabilities without a large permanent presence on the ground. We have done that in places like Libya and Somalia, places like Yemen. And we will do that in Afghanistan as well as we go forward.”

Taliban ‘to announce full Cabinet in coming days'

13:45 , Andy Gregory

There are fears of an economic crisis and widespread hunger in Afghanistan amid the administrative vacuum left by the collapse of the Afghan government and suspension of billions of pounds in foreign aid – with prices for commodities like flour, rice and oil rising rapidly and the currency plunging.

Yesterday, officials ordered banks to re-open and imposed a limit on withdrawals of $200 (£145) or 20,000 afghani as long queues formed outside banks.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed to Reuters that the problems would subside quickly once the new administration is up and running.

The Taliban will announce a full cabinet in the coming days and has appointed governors and police chiefs in all but one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Kim Sengupta: Isis-K’s murderous campaign is Afghanistan’s untold story

13:59 , Andy Gregory

The bombings in Kabul on Thursday have led to international focus on Isis-K (Isis-Khorasan), which carried out the massacre of more than 150 people including 13 American military personnel, writes our defence and security editor Kim Sengupta.

Long before the carnage near Kabul airport, Isis-K had been carrying out lethal attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in the country. The victims were Afghan, and the deaths received limited coverage in the west.

Isis-K’s murderous campaign is Afghanistan’s untold story

Unconfirmed reports of explosion in Kabul

14:05 , Jon Sharman

There are early, and unconfirmed, reports coming in of a new explosion in Kabul.

Al Arabiya cited the Agence France-Presse news agency as reporting a blast had been heard by its journalists.

We’ll bring you more as details emerge.

More information about Kabul explosion

14:08 , Jon Sharman

An explosion does appear to have taken place in Kabul, near the airport where Thursday’s deadly suicide bombing occurred.

Reuters cited witnesses as saying Sunday’s blast was caused by a rocket.

The BBC quoted a health official as saying the rocket had struck a house.

Rocket attack reported after explosion near Kabul airport

14:22 , Jon Sharman

You can read our breaking news story about the Kabul explosion below.

Police officials in Kabul have told the Associated Press a child was killed in a rocket attack that struck a residential neighbourhood.

Afghanistan: Rocket attack reported after explosion near Kabul airport

US has carried out military strike in Kabul, report says

14:40 , Jon Sharman

Reuters is reporting two US officials as saying the American military has conducted a military strike in Kabul.

It was not clear from the report whether this was linked to the rocket attack, or what form this strike took.

France and UK to propose Kabul ‘safe zone'

14:41 , Jon Sharman

Emmanuel Macron says France and Britain plan to propose at the UN on Monday the creation of a "safe zone" in Kabul that would allowed for continued "humanitarian operations".

The French president, currently in Iraq, said on Sunday that Paris and London would propose tat a Security Council meeting on the crisis in Afghanistan.

This would keep pressure on the Taliban and hold the international community accountable, he said in an interview with the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche published on Sunday.

It was unclear if the protection zone France and Britain envisage would be linked to eventual "targeted evacuations" that Mr Macron spoke of on Saturday.

He said at a news conference in Baghdad that France is talking with the Taliban and Qatar about continuing evacuations after the Americans pull out on Tuesday to bring out Afghans on France's list of potential evacuees that never made it out of the country.

One possibility would be to evacuate via Kabul's civilian airport or a neighboring country, he told Le Journal du Dimanche.


US airstrike was against suicide bomber who planned to target airport, Taliban says

14:55 , Jon Sharman

The US military strike mentioned previously was an aerial bombing raid against a suicide bomber in a vehicle who planned to target Kabul airport, the Associated Press has reported a Taliban spokesperson as saying.

Reuters quoted a US official as saying suspected Isis-K militants had been struck.

AP further reported that the incident appeared to be separate from the rocket attack that killed a child in Kabul today.

Joe Biden honours 13 US troops who died in Kabul blast as they are repatriated

15:31 , Jon Sharman

Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden headed to Dover, Delaware on Sunday to attend the dignified transfer of the remains of 13 US service members killed by an Isis-k terrorist attack in Kabul last week, writes John Bowden.

Mr Biden left the White House Sunday morning and arrived in Dover shortly before 9.00am. The dignified transfer, in which the flag-draped “transfer cases” are removed from the plane and transferred to an awaiting vehicle, was set to take place around noon.

The White House has avoided referring to the event as a “ceremony”, a White House official told pool reporters, to avoid putting pressure on family members to attend the gathering, which is instead reportedly being referred to as a “solemn movement”.

Joe Biden honours 13 US troops who died in Kabul blast as they return home

Information remains clouded on explosion in Kabul

16:02 , Jon Sharman

Details are still sparse about the rocket attack Kabul police said had killed a child northwest of the city’s airport on Sunday.

The US has said it carried out an airstrike against Isis-K militants in the city on Sunday as well, though there were few initial details about the incident.

The Taliban initially described the two strikes as separate incidents, though information on both remained scarce and witnesses heard only one large blast Sunday in the Afghan capital.

The US claimed there had been no indication of civilian casualties in its airstrike, but has misled the public with similar statements in the past.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon said there were significant secondary explosions from the vehicle targeted, suggesting a lot of explosive material was packed inside.

UNICEF official: Afghan children’s needs ‘never been greater’

16:31 , Lamiat Sabin

George Laryea-Adjei, Regional Director for UNICEF South Asia, appealed on Sunday, during a visit to Afghanistan, for £140 million ($192m) to help children in the country.

He said: “Young people and children have been telling us they are in desperate need of the most basic items and services – needs which, given support, the humanitarian community can easily respond to.

“The needs of the children of Afghanistan have never been greater. We cannot abandon them now.”

Before Kabul fell to the Taliban, “Afghanistan was already one of the hardest places on earth to be a child” – he wrote on Twitter.

Taliban formally bans co-education

16:45 , Lamiat Sabin

The Taliban has formally announced a ban on co-education in Afghanistan.

The group, which is set to form a new government, announced that men will not be allowed to teach girls.

It comes after the Taliban had already banned having boys and girls – or men and women – in the same classes.

Afghan journalist Bashir Ahmad Gwakh said that this would further destroy chances of girls and women getting an education, as there is likely to be very few female teachers compared to male teachers.

He said: “This will effectively deprive girls from higher education because universities cannot afford it nor there are enough human resources.”

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CENTCOM: ‘Drone strike targeted multiple suicide bombers’

17:00 , Lamiat Sabin

US forces conducted a drone strike on a vehicle believed to have been carrying what other US officials said were “multiple suicide bombers”, US Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed to The Independent.

The suicide bombers were headed for Kabul airport where US evacuations are continuing, and had posed an “imminent threat”, CENTCOM said.

Andy Gregory has the details

US claims drone strike targeting ‘imminent threat’ near Kabul airport

Soldiers killed in Afghanistan-Pakistan border gunfire

17:15 , Lamiat Sabin

Pakistan’s army said today that two of its soldiers were shot dead by Afghan militants from across the border.

The army said that it fired back in retaliation, and killed two or three Afghan militants and injured up to four.

The incident in Pakistan’s Bajaur district is the first of its kind reported since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

The army did not say which group was behind the attack.

“We expected that the way things were unfolding in Afghanistan, the violence can spill over in Pakistan,” Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar told a news conference.


Turkey rejects idea of taking in more Afghan migrants

17:45 , Lamiat Sabin

Turkey has claimed that it cannot take “burden” of more migrants from Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey has already fulfilled its humanitarian duties.

He said: “It is out of the question for us to take an additional refugee burden.”

Mr Cavusoglu spoke in a joint news conference in the Antalya province with German counterpart Heiko Maas.

Mr Maas said that Germany is aiming to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan to stop migrants travelling into Europe, and has today promised aid for countries that border Afghanistan.

He is currently on a trip to Turkey, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, as well as Qatar.

“It is in our own interest to prevent the collapse in Afghanistan from destabilising the entire region,” Mr Maas said.

China warns US against ‘fighting terrorism selectively'

18:00 , Lamiat Sabin

China has urged the US to work with the Taliban to help Afghanistan fight terrorism.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone today in a call that was made at the invitation of Washington, according to Chinese state television.

Mr Wang said it is necessary for all sides to engage with the Taliban and “positively guide” them, according to the report.

He added that Washington should provide economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, help the Taliban run governmental functions, maintain social stability, stop depreciation of the currency and the cost of living from rising.

Mr Wang also said: “While respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan, the US should take concrete action to help Afghanistan fight terrorism and stop violence, rather than playing double standards or fighting terrorism selectively.”

Comments made by Mr Blinken have yet to be reported.

Taliban tells world leaders people will be able to exit country

18:30 , Lamiat Sabin

The Taliban has promised more than 90 countries that anybody wishing to leave Afghanistan after 31 August will be allowed to do so.

British troops have already left Kabul and US military personnel will be out of Afghanistan before Tuesday’s deadline set by US President Joe Biden.

But there have been fears over the potentially thousands of Afghans who may have been eligible for resettlement schemes, who could not make it to Kabul airport for evacuation or were not processed in time.

UK PM Boris Johnson said today that if the Taliban regime wanted diplomatic recognition and aid funding, they would have to ensure “safe passage” for those who want to leave.

A joint statement with the US and more than 90 other countries says: “We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorisation from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country.”

Number of Afghans for UK to resettle ‘seriously underestimated'

19:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Labour warned the government that it was working with a “serious underestimate” of how many Afghans who could be eligible for resettlement in the UK are left in Afghanistan.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said Labour MPs have alone already identified about 5,000 cases.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously said he believed between 800 and 1,100 Afghans eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) would be left behind.

Ms Nandy, in a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, said the government should plan for “significantly larger” numbers.

The government has said the open-ended Arap scheme is for Afghans and their families who helped the British effort during the 20-year campaign, and may be at risk of persecution by the Taliban.

The Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement (ACR) scheme will allow vulnerable Afghans, such as women and girls, journalists and aid workers, to move to the UK.

Mr Wallace said that about 100-150 UK nationals will remain in Afghanistan, adding that some were staying willingly.

The Observer has reported that thousands of emails from MPs and charities highlighting potentially eligible cases went unread by the Foreign Office amid the chaos of the evacuation.

UK to launch ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ for Afghan refugees

19:30 , Lamiat Sabin

The UK government’s plans to resettle Afghan refugees – dubbed “Operation Warm Welcome” – will be detailed next week.

The scheme will be overseen by Victoria Atkins, new Minister for Afghan Resettlement.

The plans are to include a £5 million pot for councils to provide housing support, an offer of a vaccine for everyone on arrival and access to rapid mental well-being and trauma support.

A new “central portal” will be set up for organisations and businesses to offer support, jobs, training, and to donate clothes and toys, and free English language courses will also be provided for those who need it, they added.

PM Boris Johnson said: “For those who have left their homes with no more than a small bag of belongings, and in fear for their lives, coming to the UK will no doubt have been a daunting experience, but also one of hope for the future.

“I am determined that we welcome them with open arms and that my Government puts in place the support they need to rebuild their lives.

“We will never forget the brave sacrifice made by Afghans who chose to work with us, at great risk to themselves. We owe them, and their families, a huge debt.”

TV show host watched over by Taliban militants on-air

20:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Footage from Afghan TV has emerged in which the host is watched over by two armed Taliban militants.

BBC journalist Yalda Hakim, who was born in Kabul, described the scene as “surreal”.

She said: “This is what a political debate now looks like on Afghan TV, Taliban foot soldiers watching over the host.

“The presenter talks about the collapse of the Ghani govt & says the Islamic Emirate says the Afghan people should not to be afraid”.

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Three children killed in earlier drone strike — Associated Press

20:56 , Alastair Jamieson

An Afghan official says three children were killed in the earlier drone strike that the US said hit a vehicle carrying Isis suicide bombers, according to Associated Press.

The Pentagon said said the vehicle was carrying explosives and that the initial strike set off secondary explosions.

However, local police earlier said one child had been killed and the AP report increases that number two three.

It remains unclear how the children were killed in what US forces called a “self-defence” strike.

MoD posts ‘incredible’ photo of RAF’s biggest capacity flight

21:30 , Lamiat Sabin

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has shared a photo of 436 people being evacuated out of Kabul, in the “single-biggest capacity flight in RAF history”.

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Biden rebuffs reporter’s question on Kabul at FEMA briefing

22:00 , Lamiat Sabin

President Joe Biden declined to answer a reporter’s question about Afghanistan while he was at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters to speak about Hurricane Ida.

He was at the FEMA office, in Washington DC, to speak about the hurricane that has been ripping through Louisiana this weekend.

Mr Biden said that he was not supposed to take any questions but asked Jennifer Jacobs from Bloomberg News to “go ahead”.

But when she started to ask about whether the Isis-K threat to Kabul airport remains “acute”, Mr Biden interjected with “I’m not going to answer on Afghanistan now” and walked away from the lectern.

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More than 100 Afghans arrive in Kosovo

22:30 , Lamiat Sabin

A group of 111 Afghan refugees today arrived in Kosovo, where they will be temporarily hosted.

After arriving in Pristina, they will be accommodated in US military base Camp Bondsteel in Ferizaj.

Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani and PM Albin Kurti welcomed the refugees at the airport.

Mr Kurti told reporters: “More than 22 years ago, NATO embarked on a humanitarian intervention to stop the genocide against us, and now we are welcoming the [Afghan] refugees.”

Kosovo is expected to receive a total of 2,000 refugees who worked in Afghanistan with NATO forces or foreign organisations.

The length of their stay will depend on procedures to provide them with documents for long-term residence in the US.

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22:32 , Lamiat Sabin

That’s it for The Independent’s coverage of Afghanistan today. Thank you for following.

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