Kabul, Aug 26: In a fresh security alert, the US Embassy in Kabul has asked US citizens to avoid traveling to the airport citing “security threats outside the gates” of the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
It also said US citizens who are at the “Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately”.
“Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling 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,” it said on Wednesday.
It asked US citizens to be aware of their surroundings at all times, especially in large crowds, follow the instructions of local authorities including movement restrictions related to curfews, have a contingency plan for emergencies, and monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
It said the situation in Kabul continues to change quickly, including at the airport, and requested citizens not to call the U.S. Embassy for updates, as the airport gates could change daily
“The U.S. Government cannot ensure safe passage to the airport,” it said.
On August 21, the US had issued a Level 4 travel advisory – the highest level— for Afghanistan, saying Do Not Travel.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that around 1,500 American citizens remain in Afghanistan ahead of the August 31 deadline for the US to withdraw troops from the country.
In a briefing with reporters, Blinken said 4,500 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the past 10 days and “we’ve been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely.”
He said officials have had a difficult time tracking down the other estimated 1,000 American citizens who might still be in the country.
“We’re aggressively reaching out to them multiple times a day, through multiple channels of communication — phone, email, text messaging — to determine whether they still want to leave,” Blinken said, adding that some may have already left the country without notifying the government.
Blinken noted some may have decided to stay. “Many of them are dual nationals and may consider Afghanistan their home, who lived there for decades or who want to stay close to extended family,” he said.
He also said some of the 1,000 “may have claimed to be Americans but turned out not to be.”