Briton and wife beaten at Taliban checkpoint while trying to flee Afghanistan

After being beaten by Taliban guards while trying to get to the British evacuation centre, man in hiding tells Holly Bancroft he is now pleading for help from Foreign Office

Friday 20 August 2021 19:59
<p>Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul</p>

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul

A British national, desperate to escape Afghanistan with his new wife, is fearing for his life after being told by the Foreign Office to make his way to a hotel that is behind three Taliban checkpoints.

The man, who we are choosing not to identify, received an email from the British Embassy that told him to head to Baron Hotel in Kabul – where Brits are being processed and being taken to evacuating flights.

Last night, he tried to travel to the hotel with his wife but was brutally beaten by Taliban guards at the first checkpoint on the way and told to return on pain of death.

He told The Independent that he was now scared to leave the house and had moved with his wife seven times because the Taliban were targeting foreign citizens.

He said: “People from the Foreign Office were instructing us to go to the Baron Hotel – but before you get to the Baron there are three Taliban checkpoints.

“When we went to the first one last night, there were about four to five Taliban there and they would not let us get through.

“We showed them our documents, emails, and our Foreign Office details, but the Taliban attacked us because they knew we were fleeing the country. They said there’s no way we could go to the hotel and that we should go back or they would shoot.”

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of Kabul airport on Thursday

The British national started pleading with the Taliban to let him and his wife pass. He said: “I spoke to them and started arguing with them, saying: ‘Please let us go. We don’t want to stay here in Afghanistan. We are going back to the UK.’ But they said no and started to fire on our car.

“My wife escaped from the car and another guy, who had a Kalashnikov, started to beat my wife. I tried to save her from the beating and then he started to beat me as well. We were in so much pain so we told them we would leave.”

The Brit had travelled to Afghanistan in early August for his wedding and had booked flights for next week to return to the UK with his new wife.

The restaurant owner, originally from Manchester, told The Independent that they had not expected the Afghan government to collapse so quickly and that his flights had now been cancelled, with American forces in control of the airport.

“There is no possibility to go directly to the airport because it has been seized by American forces,” he said. “The airport security is run by the Americans and they are not letting anyone inside unless they are American nationals. They are not providing help to British nationals.”

He said British nationals have to go to the Baron Hotel and from there they will be escorted to the airport by British forces. They will then be able to get on evacuating flights, he said.

He has tried to get in touch with the British Embassy in Kabul to ask for help, but hasn’t heard anything back.

Taliban fighters patrol the streets of Kabul

With his way to the Baron Hotel blocked, he is desperately worried for himself and his wife. Speaking about returning to the Taliban checkpoint, he said: “If I go again, they will recognise me. The Taliban gave me a warning. They said: ‘If I see you again on this road, I will kill you.’ I can’t go out from my home now because I am really, really scared. If I go there the Taliban will recognise me and they might kill me next time.”

A UN document warned on Thursday that the Taliban are going door-to-door searching for people who worked for Nato forces or the previous Afghan government.

Describing the atmosphere in the city, the British man said: “Everyone is scared. Women are not coming out from their homes. Kids are not playing in the street, the streets are empty. The parks are empty and the bazaar is completely closed. There is no way for people to buy credit and reload their phones or get internet.”

He added: “I haven’t been able to seek medical help because the hospitals are empty. There is no one in the hospital because they ran away.”

He and his wife are having to rely on painkillers to treat their wounds.

Pleading for help, he said: “If the Foreign Office can provide us a route to the hotel, then we can get a flight back. Otherwise we won’t be able to leave.

He said he is worried the evacuations will soon halt altogether, “and then the foreign forces will move out. If that happens and we can’t get a flight we will be stuck here forever. Our lives will forever be in danger.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Our staff are working tirelessly to facilitate the swift evacuation of British nationals, Afghan staff and others at risk. The scale of the evacuation effort is huge and we have helped more than 2,400 people leave Afghanistan since Sunday.”

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