Afghan civilians trying to enter Kabul international airport | Photo: Reuters
Afghan civilians trying to enter Kabul international airport | Photo: Reuters

Since the Taliban started their takeover of Kabul around ten days ago, the UK has brought more than 5,700 people from Afghanistan to safety. The rescuees include British citizens and Afghan local staff, the defense ministry said.

According to the Britain's Ministry of Defence, British forces have flown out 5,725 people out of Kabul since evacuations began on August 13. Among those rescued are more than 3,100 former Afghan local staff and their relatives, the ministry said Sunday evening (August 22).

Aside from Afghans, diplomatic staff and citizens of the UK were also among those evacuted. The British commander on the ground, Dan Blanchford, called the mission "very complex and difficult." According to Blanchford, families and individuals had "horrible difficulties" to get to the airport. His soldiers were witnessing "heartbreaking scenes," he said.

Meanwhile, in the face of the planned finalization of the US troop withdrawal by the end of August, Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the British tabloid Mail on Sunday the US had Britain's "full support" for an extension of the mission.

The US had announced to pull out all its remaining troops out of Afghanistan by August 31. Given the tight schedule and the tough conditions for the evacuations, Wallace was campaigning to postpone the final withdrawal date. On Sunday, though, US President Biden announced he may extend the August 31 deadline.

Also read: German states want to take in thousands of Afghans fleeing Taliban

Desperate situation at Kabul airport

Since the takeover of power over Afghanistan by the militant Islamic Taliban a week ago, Kabul's airport is being secured only by foreign soldiers. For days, thousands of desperate people have been crowding in front of the gates of the airport hoping for a spot on one of the evacuation flights.

As a result, the gates were temporarily closed on Saturday (August 21). Several people died in the ensuing panic and shoving. The evacuation flights were temporarily halted, too.

According to the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, one of its cargo plane landed on Monday 9 a.m. central European time in Kabul. Not even 90 minutes later, it departed with almost 200 vulnerable passengers bound for Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

Another Bundeswehr cargo plane, this one transporting food and clothes for the people at Kabul airport, also took off from Tashkent Monday morning, the Bundeswehr announced via its Twitter account.

Just hours earlier, according to the Bundeswehr and the German ministry of defense, an Afghan security officer was killed and three others injured in a gunfight outside the airport involving unknown attackers as well as German and other western forces. At least 20 people have died at the airport since the Taliban gained control of the Afghan capital.

Also read: First flights of Afghan evacuees land in Paris

With AFP


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