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Britain says its Afghanistan evacuations to ‘end in a matter of hours’: Reports

Families board U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 23, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz).

Britain said it plans to complete its evacuations out of Afghanistan “in a matter of hours” on Friday after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 85 people, including 13 US soldiers, at Kabul airport. Britain’s defence ministry also said that its forces have entered the final stages of evacuating people from Kabul’s airport and processing facilities have closed. “It is with deep regret that not everyone has been able to be evacuated during this process,” defence minister Ben Wallace said in a statement.

“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,” Wallace also told Sky News.

Wallace said that Thursday’s attack at the Kabul airport had not sped up Britain’s timetable for ending the evacuation operation. He said the threat of further attacks would grow as the operation neared its conclusion.

Britain has evacuated more than 13,700 of its nationals and Afghans, the defence ministry said, as the Taliban took over Afghanistan on August 15.

Spain has already ended its evacuation of personnel from Afghanistan and its government said that the last evacuees are expected to land at the Torrejon military airbase near Madrid later on Friday. Two military planes carrying the last 81 Spaniards, four Portuguese soldiers and 83 Afghans, who worked with Nato countries, arrived in Dubai early on Friday morning, the government said in a statement. “These two flights conclude the evacuation of Spanish personnel and Afghan allies and their families,” the statement read.

Spain has evacuated 1,898 Afghans, who worked with western countries the United Nations or the European Union, during the course of its rescue mission.

Thursday’s suicide bombings were claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) or ISIS-K, which came just days after US President Joe Biden warned that the affiliate of the Islamic State group operating in Afghanistan was “seeking to target the airport and attack US and allied forces and innocent civilians.” The US has said further attempted attacks are expected ahead of the Tuesday deadline for foreign troops to leave Afghanistan.

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(c) 2021 the Hindustan Times

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