US, UK warn citizens to avoid Kabul airport amid threats

TEHRAN, Aug. 26 (MNA) – The US and UK embassies in Kabul issued separate statements warning citizens of their respective countries to avoid travel to Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL).

According to reports carried out by the world media, the US statement said individuals should avoid approaching KBL unless given specific instructions from US officials to travel to the facility. The UK statement told UK citizens to avoid all travel to KBL, and to leave the facility if currently located nearby. The US advisory cited unspecified security threats, while the UK message specifically cited a "high threat of terrorist attack".

US-facilitated military evacuation flights are ongoing at KBL. Commercial flights remain suspended, though some foreign governments are using commercial airlines to facilitate evacuations. It is unclear when normally scheduled commercial flights will resume.

The US and allied military forces effectively control KBL. However, the Taliban effectively controls all ground access to the facility. Taliban forces have erected checkpoints outside the airport to control the flow of people entering. The US has facilitated some evacuations to KBL from specific points in Kabul via military helicopters in recent days.

Large crowds of people remain gathered outside Taliban checkpoints and airport gates on access roads. Stampedes have also occurred as people rush to enter the airport. Taliban fighters have reportedly shot at people, including those who have gotten through checkpoints without approval. US military forces have previously fired live rounds to clear crowds from the airport tarmac. In recent days violence and stampedes have killed or wounded dozens of people in Kabul. Although Taliban leadership and the US likely want to avoid direct armed conflict between their forces at KBL, clashes at the facility cannot be ruled out.

Taliban leaders had previously announced that Afghan nationals will no longer be allowed to depart from KBL for the time being. The Taliban have called for Afghans gathered outside the facility to disperse. According to the statement, Taliban forces will continue to allow foreign nationals in possession of valid passports to access KBL. Taliban leaders have also warned of unspecified consequences if US and allied forces continue military-led evacuations after Aug. 31. German officials say that the Taliban plan to allow Afghans with valid travel documents to depart the country on commercial flights following a US military withdrawal.

KI/PR

News Code 177828

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