White House says 13,400 people evacuated from Afghanistan in one day; total is 95,700

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Roughly 13,400 people were airlifted from Afghanistan on Wednesday, raising the total number of those evacuated by the US and coalition partners since Aug. 14 to about 95,700, the White House said on Thursday.

The US military says planes are taking off the equivalent of every 39 minutes.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at least 4,500 American citizens and their families had been evacuated from Afghanistan since mid-August.

Pressure to complete the evacuation of tens of thousands of foreigners, and Afghans who helped Western countries during the 20-year war against the Taliban, has intensified. US and allied troops have to switch their focus in the coming hours or days to the logistics of their own withdrawal.

The US and allies urged Afghans to leave Kabul airport on Thursday, citing the threat of an attack by ISIS militants, as Western troops hurry to evacuate as many people as possible before an Aug. 31 deadline.

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

A Western diplomat in Kabul said areas outside the airport gates were “incredibly crowded” again despite the warnings.

The US military has said it would shift its focus to evacuating its troops in the final two days before the deadline.

President Joe Biden has ordered all troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the month to comply with a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, despite European allies saying they needed more time.

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