US warns citizens away from Kabul airport due to potential security threats

Chaos reigned as thousands tried to escape the country and Americans were airlifted from their hotel

Helen Elfer
Saturday 21 August 2021 15:25
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CNN reports survival of the fittest' conditions at Kabul airport

Americans in Afghanistan have been warned to avoid travelling to Kabul airport because of security threats outside the gates.

A US travel advisory was released on Saturday as thousands attempted to flee the country to escape Taliban rule.

“Because of potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid travelling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” read the advisory.

The update was released after a week of chaos, confusion and violence at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Scores of Afghans rushed to the airport to try and leave the country after the Taliban took power on Sunday, while many countries, including the US, scrambled to evacuate their citizens.

Accessing the airport became increasingly dangerous and difficult, as Taliban fighters beat and shot at the crowds gathered outside. Numerous checkpoints around were set up around the perimeter, where soldiers refused to let many people pass.

By Thursday the situation had deteriorated to the extent that 169 Americans had to be rescued by military helicopters from a hotel close to the airport.

The group had planned to walk from their accommodation to the gates, but a large crowd had gathered outside the hotel and a US Commander deemed it unsafe for them to attempt to pass through.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that three U.S. CH-47 Chinook helicopters were then dispatched to airlift the Americans to the airport.

“There was an established landing zone there at the hotel premises,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said: “They flew in, picked up the 169 Americans and flew right back to HKIA.”

No information about whether the group had since been flown out of the country was available.

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