NATO forces are winding up their evacuation missions from Afghanistan ahead of the August 31 deadline set by the US for troop withdrawal. While some EU countries announced their last flights on Thursday five days ahead of the deadline, Britain said on Friday that it plans to complete its evacuations out of Afghanistan “in a matter of hours”.
France has also announced that it will end its evacuation operations from Kabul on Friday.
The decisions appear to have been taken in view the sharp deterioration in the security situation at Kabul.
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News: “We will process those people that we have brought with us, the 1,000 people approximately inside the airfield now. And we will seek a way to continue to find a few people in the crowd, where we can, but overall the main processing has now closed and we have a matter of hours.”
UK along with the US and Australia had warned its citizens to stay away from Kabul airports on Thursday morning amid intelligence reports of an imminent bomb attack. The information had turned out to be correct with the deadly twin suicide bombings later at night claiming 60 lives and injuring 100 people.
According to Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), the Netherlands said it will carry out its last evacuation flight from Kabul on Thursday.
Denmark said its last flight carrying troops and diplomats had already left Kabul’s airport.
Poland and Belgium have already ended their evacuations and withdrawn all military personnel from Afghanistan.
Hungary said its army had evacuated all Hungarian citizens from Afghanistan.
The DW report said the German military has completed its airlift operations from Kabul airport.
Earlier before the blasts took place, a spokesperson for the German Defence Ministry had told DW that the security situation at the Kabul airport had “deteriorated further and the threat of a terror attack is becoming increasingly concrete”.
Through the airlift efforts, Germany’s Bundeswehr managed to safely evacuate over 5,100 people, including more than 3,600 Afghans.
It’s not clear how many German nationals are still left in the country. The German Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that some 200 German citizens are still believed to be in Kabul.
The number has even been rising “because people continue to report to us”, a spokesperson said.