'High threat of terrorist attack' around Kabul airport Foreign Office warns

ITV News Security Editor Rohit Kachroo reports on the threat not just from the Taliban but also IS near the Kabul airport

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) is warning those eligible for evacuation out of Afghanistan not to travel to Kabul airport due to an "ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack".

A statement from the FCO said the situation remains "volatile" as thousands wait to be evacuated from the now Taliban-led country.

The updated advice applies to UK nationals only.

It comes as new figures show more than 11,000 people have now been evacuated from Afghanistan by UK troops.

Aerial pictures show thousands of people converging on the tarmac desperate to escape the country Credit: @Macar

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that 11,474 people had been able to leave the country since the evacuation mission Operation Pitting began on August 13.

This includes embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the Afghan relocation and assistance policy (Arap) programme, as well as some evacuees from allied countries.

Wednesday's change in advice to UK nationals said: "There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack. Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.

"If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice".

A full flight of 265 people on board an evacuation flight out of Kabul airport. Credit: LPhot Ben Shread/MoD/PA

The British government has committed to getting as many out as possible before August 31 when US troops withdraw.

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the threat from the so-called Islamic State splinter cell Isis-K was “real, acute” and “persistent”.

Crowds have flocked to the airport over the last 12 days, since evacuation efforts began, in order to flee Afghanistan.

Chaotic scenes have been reported as troops attempted to remove as many eligible people as possible before an August 31 deadline by which military personnel must leave the country.

The RAF still needs to airlift nearly 2,000 Afghan interpreters and other staff out of Kabul, as the evacuation operation enters its final days.

They have been assessed as eligible under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy (Arap) and have passed security checks but remain on the ground.

The MoD said the UK has evacuated almost 7,000 Afghan individuals and their families so far.

ITV News has been in Kabul all week, reporting on the chaotic scenes around the airport

Wednesday night's updated advice said: "Commercial flights are not currently operating. If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately.

"We have suspended all non-essential operations at the British Embassy in Kabul in response to the deterioration in the security situation. The embassy has relocated. The FCDO is only providing consular assistance remotely and is extremely limited.

"Travel by road throughout the country is extremely dangerous. There have been allegations of people being mistreated on their way to Kabul International Airport."

On Wednesday Dominic Raab told ITV News the UK would use "every hour and day remaining" to evacuate British passport holders and local allies, but would not confirm whether flights extracting civilians would end several days before the official deadline.

Mr Raab admitted the UK would "ideally have preferred a longer window" for evacuations but said he understands the reality, with the Taliban threatening "consequences" if any country overstays its welcome.

It means the clock is quickly running down on the UK's evacuation operation at Kabul airport, with British troops expected to have to leave ahead of their American counterparts.