As many as 350 more UK nationals and Afghans who worked with UK troops would be evacuated in “the days that come”, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk
The government is sending a further 200 troops to Kabul after the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital, media reported.
A total of around 900 UK troops will patrol Kabul’s airport amid chaotic scenes on the runway, as part of efforts to secure evacuation flights, the BBC reported.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed 350 more UK nationals and Afghans who worked with UK troops would be evacuated in “the days that come”.
He said the situation was “not what we wanted, but we have to deal with the new reality”.
Nearly 2,000 Afghans who have worked with UK troops have already left Afghanistan on UK flights. The government also said the processing of Afghan workers’ applications “continues at pace”, it wa reported.
Meanwhile, the first plane to bring UK citizens and embassy employees back home from Afghanistan has landed in the country, the UK Ministry of Defence announced on Monday.
“Last night the first flight of British Nationals and Embassy Staff arrived at RAF [Royal Air Force] Brize Norton as part of Op [operation] PITTING. The UK Armed Forces are supporting the evacuation of British Nationals and those eligible for relocation under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Program,” the ministry said in a Tweet.
On Tuesday morning, another 150 British nationals were due to arrive in the UK from Kabul, it was learnt. The Foreign Office has advised more than 4,000 British citizens thought to be in Afghanistan to leave.
Speaking to broadcasters following a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra group on Monday, Raab said there had been “surprise” at the speed of the Taliban’s progress.
“Everyone, I think, has been surprised by the scale and the pace at which the Taliban have taken over in Afghanistan, and that’s a lesson that we’ve all got to learn from,” BBC quoted Raab as saying.
“But the truth is what matters right now is focusing on getting British nationals out, getting out those who have so loyally served the UK, and making sure that the gains that we’ve made over 20 years are not lost,” he added.
Meanwhile, all commercial flights have been suspended at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan’s Kabul to avoid crowds.
According to witnesses cited by TOLO News, several people were killed and injured in a shooting at the airport in Kabul.
At least three people lost their lives on Monday following gunfire at the passenger terminal of Kabul’s international airport. The incident happened after thousands of Afghans gathered at the Kabul airport to seek an evacuation flight amid the Taliban’s takeover of the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Witnesses reported seeing the prone, bloodied bodies lying on the ground just outside the terminal building. Officials at the US Central Command were not immediately available for comment, the report stated.
Meanwhile, the US military has taken over the security at the Kabul airport to execute the massive airlift of diplomat presence in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the capital city, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Govt formation talks underway in Doha
The Taliban said on Monday that discussions are underway in Doha about a future government in Afghanistan, including its structure and name, and they are expected to report on the process in the very near future.
A high-ranking official of the Taliban told TOLOnews that their leadership is busy in discussions in Doha and is in contact with the international community and political parties within Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s political deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said that the current moment is a test for the Taliban.
“At this time, we face a test because now we are responsible for the security of the people,” Baradar said.
On Monday, the Taliban entered the TOLOnews compound in Kabul, checked the weapons of the security staff, collected government-issued weapons and agreed to keep the compound safe.
There was no improper treatment of the staff members.
Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is part of a self-proclaimed council to move the talks forward, said that Ashraf Ghani’s failures led to the current situation in the country.
“The corrupt government did not show any preparation to quit violence and to end Afghanistan’s crisis peacefully,” Hekmatyar said in a pre-recorded message on Sunday evening.
Sayed Ishaq Gailani, an Afghan politician who is the head of the National Solidarity Party of Afghanistan, said that Afghanistan should have a system in which the achievements of the last two decades are preserved.
“Ashraf Ghani committed treason and he left the country. Now they should be quick in forming their government; otherwise, people will remain concerned,” said Gailani. (ANI)