UK armed forces minister warns of 'imminent attack' on Kabul
There is "very, very credible" intelligence that militants are planning an imminent attack on those gathering at Kabul airport in an attempt to flee Afghanistan, British armed forces minister James Heappey said on Thursday.
"There is now very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack, and hence why the Foreign Office advice was changed last night, that people should not come to Kabul Airport, they should move to a safe place and await further instructions," Heappey told BBC radio.
"I can only say that the threat is severe. We will do our best to protect those who are there. There is every chance that as further reporting comes in, we may be able to change the advice and process people anew, but there is no guarantee of that."
Britain's Foreign Office on Wednesday advised against all travel to Afghanistan, adding the security situation in the country remained volatile, with a "high threat of a terrorist attack".
"The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all travel to Afghanistan. You should not travel to Afghanistan", the Foreign Office said in an advisory.
"The security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile. There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack", the statement added.
The advisory also urged not to travel to the Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.
"If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice", it said.
All non-essential operations at the British Embassy in Kabul in response to the deterioration in the security situation were suspended earlier and the embassy was relocated.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said that the deadline for evacuating people was up to the last minute of the month. The United Kingdom has already evacuated thousands of people from Afghanistan.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan earlier this month from a U.S.-backed government, sending thousands fleeing and potentially heralding a return to the militants' austere and autocratic rule of two decades ago.
Western nations rushed to complete the evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan on Wednesday as the Aug. 31 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops drew closer with no sign that the country's new Taliban rulers might allow an extension.
In one of the biggest such airlifts ever, the United States and its allies have evacuated more than 70,000 people, including their citizens, NATO personnel and Afghans at risk, since Aug. 14, the day before the Taliban swept into the capital Kabul to bring to an end a 20-year foreign military presence.