The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city, issued a statement on Aug. 25 advising Americans in the country to avoid traveling to Kabul airport, citing security threats.
“Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the embassy said in a security alert.
It added in a bolded statement, “U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.”
The alert did not provide further details as to what security threats lie outside Kabul airport, also known as Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The embassy provided a list of actions to take, including to “be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in large crowds,” and to “monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.”
Americans are also advised to follow local authorities’ instructions, which includes movement restrictions related to any curfews.
Since the Taliban terrorist organization took full control of Afghanistan on Aug. 15 after the U.S.-backed government fled, crowds have flooded to the gates of Kabul airport, desperate to leave.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Washington on Aug. 25 that the State Department believes that more than 4,500 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. He added that up to 1,500 Americans remain there. He said that the estimations are based on “dynamic calculations” and the true figure is “difficult to pin down with absolute precision at any given moment.”
Altogether, the United States and its allies have evacuated more than 88,000 people since Aug. 15, including 19,000 in the past 24 hours, with the U.S. military saying planes are taking off the equivalent of every 39 minutes.
Britain, Australia Also Warn of Security Threat
The British government on Aug. 25 similarly told its citizens to not travel to Kabul airport.
“The security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile. There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack. Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport,” Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said on its website on Aug. 25. “If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice.”
“Commercial flights are not currently operating,” the office added. “If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately.”
It also said that the British Embassy in Kabul has had all of its non-essential operations suspended and has relocated in response to the deterioration in the security situation.
Separately, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne on Aug. 26 warned about a “very high threat of terrorist attack.” She said people should not travel to Kabul airport, and if they are in the area of the airport, to “move to a safe location and await further advice.”
“Afghanistan remains highly volatile and dangerous. Be aware of the potential for violence and security threats with large crowds,” she also told reporters.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid previously told reporters in Kabul on Aug. 24 that they want all foreign evacuations to be completed by Aug. 31 and will accept “no extensions” to the deadline.
“We are sending a message to the Americans again to evacuate their citizens by [Aug. 31] because they have the means to do so, they have planes and the airport is with them and they have to transfer all the forces and contractors who have relation [sic] with foreigners,” he said.
“We are not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave—won’t allow them—and after that, we will not allow [Americans] to be here and we will take a serious position, God willing,” he added.
But on Aug. 25, Blinken said that evacuation efforts does not strictly conclude on Aug. 31, saying that it will continue for “as long as it takes” referring to both Americans and Afghan allies who wish to leave Afghanistan.
“Our expectation—the expectation of the international community—is that people who want to leave Afghanistan after the U.S. military departs should be able to do so,” he said, adding later, “We will use every diplomatic, economic assistance tool at our disposal working hand-in-hand with the international community, first and foremost to ensure that those who want to leave Afghanistan after the 31st are able to do so.”
Biden previously said on Aug. 24 that the United States is “on a pace” to finish evacuating every American who wants to leave by the Aug. 31 deadline, a statement that appears to contradict those of Democrats and Republicans in Congress.