‘Severe threat’ of an ‘imminent’ terror attack at Kabul airport: British armed forces minister’s warning after Afghans were told to make for the border instead of waiting for evacuation
- James Heappey says there is ‘very credible reporting’ of a ‘severe’ attack in Kabul
- The US has told citizens to avoid travelling to the airport due to the terror risk
- Thousands of stranded foreigners and Afghans are still desperately trying to flee
A minister has warned that a ‘very serious’ ISIS terror threat at Kabul airport is ‘imminent’ as thousands desperately try to flee Afghanistan.
Western forces are still stationed at the transport hub during the last-minute evacuations of stranded foreigners, making the site a likely target for an attack.
Armed forces minister James Heappey said that there is ‘very credible reporting’ of a ‘severe’ attack.
A minister has warned that a ‘very serious’ terror threat at Kabul airport is ‘imminent’ as thousands desperately try to flee Afghanistan. Pictured: people waiting outside Hamid Karzai airport
He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘There is now very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack.
‘It’s an extraordinarily challenging situation both on the ground and as a set of decisions to be taken here in Whitehall because people are desperate, people are fearing for their lives anyway.
‘And so I think there is an appetite by many in the queue to take their chances, but the reporting of this threat is very credible indeed and there is a real imminence to it.
‘I can only say the threat is severe.’
He added: ‘I can’t stress the desperation of the situation enough, the threat is credible, it is imminent, it is lethal.
‘And we wouldn’t be saying this if we weren’t genuinely concerned about offering Islamic State a target.’
America, Britain and Australia all told their citizens in the early hours of Thursday to immediately leave the area over fears of a deadly blast from jihadists ISIS-K.
Armed forces minister James Heappey said that there is ‘very credible reporting’ of a ‘severe’ attack
US officials said last night there was a ‘very real risk’ of an attack by the terror group who are the Taliban’s rivals.
‘Due to threats outside the Kabul airport, US citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates unless you receive instructions to do so,’ the US State Department tweeted on Wednesday night.
‘Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.’
The UK last night told its Afghan allies to head for the border rather than attempt to get into Kabul airport where US and British forces are winding down their operations.
As evacuation efforts entered their final hours, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace appeared to signal in a briefing to MPs that there are few places left on British planes.
Questioned yesterday about what Afghans who have been offered student places or fellowships in the UK should do, Mr Wallace said: ‘If they think they can make it to a third country, that may be a better option.’
Pressed by a Tory backbencher, Mr Wallace added: ‘I recommend that they try and make it to the border … because it is higher profile going to the airport – that is where the Taliban will be focusing their efforts at the moment.’
There was no suggestion however, that Afghans who have been told by western officials to travel to the airport for evacuation should alter that plan.