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Afghan evacuations decline at Kabul airport

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The Afghan evacuation process from Kabul airport is carried continuously at a “very fast pace” by the US, as the 31 August deadline to leave Afghanistan nears.

On Saturday, the final British flight took off that carried only Afghan civilians. Also, some military flights this weekend may take some civilian evacuees.

But the US officials believe that a serious threat of a further attack remains, after Thursday’s bombing in which as many as 170 people died.

The IS-K group has claimed the attack.

According to Pentagon officials, a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan late on Friday killed two “high-profile” members of IS-K – the Islamic State (IS) group in Khorasan Province.

However, it is unclear whether they were directly involved in planning the suicide bombing at Kabul airport.

The Taliban convicted the airstrike and said the Americans should have consulted them first – a spokesman told Reuters news agency.

IS-K is the most dangerous and vicious of all the jihadist militant groups in Afghanistan but a lot different than the Taliban. 

It accuses them of deserting the battlefield in favour of a negotiated peace settlement with the Americans.

US troops have begun their withdrawal from the airport – their numbers are now down to 4,000, from a peak of 5,800 in the past week.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that the Taliban have set up various layers of checkpoint around the airport and are not allowing most Afghans to pass through. 

Italy’s final flight from Afghanistan arrived in Rome, on Saturday. The country is said to have evacuated almost 5,000 Afghans in Kabul – the highest number of any EU country.

France said it had flown out more than 2,800 since 17 August. Germany on the other hand said it had taken about 4,000 Afghans.

The head of the UK’s armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter, said it was “heartbreaking” that they had not been able to rescue everyone.

With the possibility of leaving by air now dwindling, many Afghans are reportedly now trying to escape the country via the land border with Pakistan, to the east.

Since the Taliban took Kabul on 15 August, the Afghan economy has been in freefall as aid donors freeze funds and panicked depositors seek to withdraw their money from banks.

 

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