KABUL: Australia, the US and UK asked their citizens Thursday to immediately leave the Kabul airport and its surroundings citing security threats as flights scramble to leave the country following the Taliban takeover.
Nearly 90,000 Afghans and foreigners have fled Afghanistan via the US-led airlift since the Taliban took control of the country on August 15.
However, many still remain and huge crowds have gathered in and around the airport, becoming increasingly desperate as some foreign nations cease flights ahead of the August 31 evacuation deadline set by President Joe Biden.
Biden had set Tuesday as the deadline to end the evacuations and withdraw the US troops overseeing it.
One reason for the hard deadline cited by Biden and his aides this week was an “acute” security threat from a regional chapter of the Taliban.
The US government and its allies raised the alarm further on Thursday with a series of coordinated and specific advisories warnings for their citizens to avoid the airport.
“Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” said the US State Department, citing unspecified “security threats”.
Australia’s department of foreign affairs said there was an “ongoing and very high threat of terrorist attack”.
“Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport. If you´re in the area of the airport, move to a safe location and await further advice,” Australia had stated.
London issued a similar warning, adding “if you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately”.
‘They should get their citizens out of here’
The Taliban have promised a softer brand of rule as compared to their first stint, which ended in 2001 when the United States invaded Afghanistan as the Taliban gave sanctuary to Al-Qaeda.
However, many Afghans fear a repeat of the Taliban’s earlier rule, as well as violent retributions for working with foreign militaries, Western missions or the previously US-backed government.
There are particular concerns for women, who were largely banned from education and employment and could only leave the house with a male chaperone during the group’s 1996-2001 rule.
“They have not only saved our lives, but they have also saved our dreams,” one member of a girls robotics team said of the Mexican government after fleeing