UK now enters final stages of Afghanistan evacuation efforts from Kabul airport as processing centre shuts

The Defence Sectretary has said it’s estimated that up to 1,100 Afghans who could be eligible for evacuation will be left behind by the UK as troops prepare to leave Kabul

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the UK evacuation mission in Kabul is into its final “hours” after closing the main processing centre in Baron Hotel near the airport.

He insisted the Kabul airport terror attack “didn’t hasten our departure” and the main UK evacuee processing site was closed “almost exactly on schedule”.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Wallace said the Baron Hotel processing centre, near where the bombings took place, was shut at 4.30am, as was the Abbey Gate to Kabul airport
  • Wallce declined to give a timeline for the exit of British forces but acknowledged it would come before the Americans withdraw, with Joe Biden having set a departure date for Tuesday August 31
  • Nearly 14,000 British nationals and Afghans were rescued in the mission since the middle of August
  • He said about 60-80 Afghans tragically lost their lives in the Kabul bombings and they would’ve included families waiting in the canal, or by the canal, for processing. It’s understood they were killed by one suicide bomber and another smaller explosion detonated in the middle of the crowd
  • It’s estimated 1,100 Afghans who could be eligible for evacuation will be left behind by the UK as troops prepare to leave Kabul

What’s been said

Wallace told Sky News: “We at 4.30 this morning, UK-time, closed the Baron’s hotel, shut the processing centre and the gates were closed at Abbey Gate.

“We will process the people that we’ve brought with us, the 1,000 people approximately in the airfield now and we will seek a way to continue to find a few people in the crowds where we can, but overall the main processing is now closed and we have a matter of hours.”

Background

US president Joe Biden pauses while listening to a question from a reporter about the situation in Afghanistan at the White House on August 26 as 13 American service members were killed by suicide bomb attacks near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul (image: Drew Angerer/Getty)

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden condemned the terrorist attack on Kabul airport that killed dozens of people and vowed to continue the military evacuation effort until the August 31 deadline.

Officials have said at least 13 US troops were killed alongside 80 Afghan nationals while more than 150 people were injured, including 15 US service personnel, in a “complex attack” on Thursday outside Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Joe Biden said the attack, consisting of two bombings and gunfire, was believed to have been carried out by an affiliate of the so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan, Isis-K, adding: “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

The Ministry of Defence said there have been no reported UK military or UK Government casualties.

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