As U.S. forces continue the final days of evacuations from Afghanistan, officials warned of another threat at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, where humanitarian organizations were despairing of getting civilians out of the country.
“Due to a specific, credible threat, all U.S. citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport (HKIA), including the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior, and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport, should leave the airport area immediately,” the U.S. Embassy in Kabul posted on its website on Sunday.
“U.S. citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid all airport gates at this time,” the notice said.
It is unclear how many American civilians have yet to be evacuated.
Another C-17 takes off from Kabul pic.twitter.com/BjZVH6B3kg
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 29, 2021
On Saturday, President Joe Biden said an attack could take place.
“The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high,” he said in a White House statement.
“Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours. I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources and plans to protect our men and women on the ground. They assured me that they did, and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel.”
The warning came after Thursday’s terrorist attack that killed 13 U.S. service members and what some estimates say were 170 civilians.
The warning to civilians came as the final two days of U.S. evacuations began, and the focus of military efforts was to take away personnel and equipment, according to The New York Times.
— GEN James C. McConville (@ArmyChiefStaff) August 29, 2021
Despite the warning, American University of Afghanistan students and their families took buses to the airport to leave Afghanistan while they still could, the Times reported.
Taliban guards were impeding the route to the airport for Afghans trying to evacuate, according to Al Jazeera.
As the door closed to leaving the country that will soon be completely subject to Taliban rule, many humanitarian groups admitted that some will be left behind whom they hoped to bring out of the country.
“In the last day or two, I am getting a lot of women telling me goodbye. Women starting to give up,” said Deeyah Khan, an International Civil Society Action Network board member.
“The least we can do is make sure they don’t stand completely alone.”
Stephanie Sinclair, of the group Too Young to Wed, has been trying to help women flee, but only was able to aid about 60 women and their families. She said she may now try land evacuations in hopes of crossing the Afghan border.
“It is heartbreaking and terrifying that this generation of women leaders have to fear their lives, for simply having dreams and wanting to have a purpose in life as a woman,” Sinclair said.
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