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Kabul airport ‘incredibly crowded’ despite looming ISIS threat: Official

Published: Updated:

Huge crowds continued to throng the gates of Kabul airport despite warnings by the United States and its allies of possible attacks by ISIS militants, a Western diplomat at the airport said on Thursday.

The diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said an estimated 1,500 US passport or visa holders were still trying to enter the airport.

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He said evacuation flights will pick up on Thursday after slowing down on Wednesday.

The US and allies urged people to move away from Kabul airport on Thursday due to the threat of an ISIS terror attack as Western troops hurry to evacuate as many Afghans as possible before an Aug. 31 deadline.

Pressure to complete the evacuations of thousands of foreigners and Afghans who helped Western countries during the 20-year war against the Taliban has intensified with all US and allied troops due to leave the airport next week.

In an alert issued on Wednesday evening, the US Embassy in Kabul advised US citizens to avoid travelling to the airport and said those already at the gates should leave immediately, citing unspecified “security threats.”

Britain issued a similar advisory, telling people in the area of the airport to “move away to a safe location.”

“There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack,” the British Foreign Office statement said.

Australia also urged its citizens and those with a visa for Australia to leave the area, warning of a “very high threat of a terrorist attack” at the airport.

The warnings came against a chaotic backdrop in the capital, Kabul, and its airport, where a massive airlift of foreign nationals and their families as well as some Afghans has been underway since the Taliban captured the city on Aug. 15.

While Western troops inside the airport worked feverishly to keep the evacuation moving as fast as possible, Taliban fighters guarded the perimeter outside where thousands of people have thronged, trying to flee the country rather than stay in a Taliban ruled Afghanistan.

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