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'Imminent Attack' Feared at Kabul Airport

Massive airlift is entering final phase
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 26, 2021 4:28 AM CDT
Updated Aug 26, 2021 6:45 AM CDT
Officials Warn of 'Imminent Attack' at Kabul Airport
In this image provided by the US Air Force, an airman guides evacuees to board a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.   (Senior Airman Taylor Crul/U.S. Air Force via AP)

(Newser) – European nations offered stark warnings Thursday about the waning days of a massive airlift to bring people out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, with a British official saying an "imminent attack" could target Kabul's international airport. As President Biden says he'll stick with his deadline of Aug. 31 to totally withdraw troops, some countries have begun to pull even their soldiers and diplomats out, likely signaling the beginning of the end of one of history's largest airlifts. New warnings emerged overnight from Western capitals about a possible threat from Afghanistan's Islamic State affiliate, which likely has seen its ranks boosted by the Taliban freeing prisoners across the country, the AP reports. Military cargo planes leaving Kabul airport have launched flares to disrupt any potential surface-to-air missile fire.

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British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC on Thursday there was ”very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack” at the airport, possibly within "hours." Heappey conceded that people are desperate to leave and “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.” On Wednesday, the US Embassy in Kabul issued a security alert warning American citizens away from three specific airport gates, but gave no further explanation. Senior US officials said the warning was related to ongoing and specific threats involving the Islamic State and potential vehicle bombs.

(Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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