The U.S. State Department is urging U.S. citizens and others to leave the area of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport immediately, citing a specific, credible threat.
“Due to a specific, credible threat, U.S. citizens near Kabul airport, including South gate, new Ministry of the Interior, and gate near Panjshir Petrol station, should leave the area immediately,” the department posted in a security alert at 5:38 a.m. Kabul local time. “Avoid traveling to the airport at this time.”
#Afghanistan: Due to security threats at the airport, we continue to advise U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates. Those at Abbey gate, East gate, North gate or New Ministry of Interior gate should leave immediately. https://t.co/RwXJAlj4Fr pic.twitter.com/cJtOGk5AR2
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) August 28, 2021
“U.S. citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid all airport gates at this time,” the department added in a security alert on its website.
The alert comes hours after President Joe Biden was warned by commanders that another terrorist attack was “highly likely” in the next 24 to 36 hours.
The State Department’s Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warning for Afghanistan remains in place.
“Individuals seeking information on evacuation should refer to the alerts on the Embassy website for instructions,” the website says.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters earlier on Saturday that 6,800 people were evacuated from Kabul on Friday.
Kirby pushed back on Taliban claims that they had assumed responsibility for security in some parts of the airport and reports that the United States was shutting down all evacuation operations. “Those are not true,” he said.
But he said that the Taliban had set up their own checkpoints surrounding U.S. operations at the airport in a “loose perimeter,” adding that they were “not at the airport, doing security roles or anything like that.”
Kirby said that the United States is “still in charge of the airport” and “security at the airport.”
“We’re not shutting down evacuation operations. We’re going to continue going to the end,” he said.
Taliban extremists have been see at new layers of checkpoints installed on roads leading to the airport with Humvees and night-vision goggles captured from Afghan security forces.
U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter that Taliban senior leaders on Friday had committed to not preventing anyone from traveling out of Afghanistan by air or land in a nationwide address and said the U.S. government, its allies, and the international community would hold the Taliban to their commitment.
3/3 The statement is positive. We, our allies, and the international community will hold them to these commitments.
Partial translation of statement of the relevant section on travel.👇🏾 pic.twitter.com/glr6xCeLAo
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) August 28, 2021
But despite this, members of Congress said Saturday that they were receiving reports that Afghans and some Americans had been blocked at the Taliban checkpoints from traveling to the airport for evacuation.
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), former White House physician and retired Navy rear admiral, posted to Twitter after the security alert, that Americans “have been beaten by the Taliban at check points and told to leave and come back with large sums of money.”
He added that some Americans who managed to reach the airport were then not allowed in by the State Department.
“They’ve been just outside the airport numerous times, but the State Department WILL NOT help them,” Jackson said, expressing his significant concern for their lives.
Other members of Congress have also expressed their concern about airport access for Americans, which seems to have paused along with the security alert of the credible threat at airport gates.
“U.S. citizens are not being allowed into Kabul international,” Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) posted to Twitter at midnight on Saturday.
The state department has been reached for comment.
While most U.S. allies have now finished their evacuation flights, the United States has said it plans to keep its round-the-clock flights going until the Aug. 31 deadline.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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More information can be found at Project Afghan Relief Fund: http://parf.us