(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Chaos has enveloped Kabul after Afghanistan’s government’s collapsed and the Taliban seized control, all but ending America’s 20-year campaign as it began: under Taliban rule.
Approximately 95,700 people have been evacuated since the effort began on Aug. 14, the White House said Wednesday, while the Pentagon said the military will keep the evacuation mission going until the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline.
President Joe Biden sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the White House last week, the president’s first interview since the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden has also addressed the nation several times since.
Here are the latest developments. All times Eastern:
Aug 26, 10:15 am
Before explosion, acting US ambassador to Afghanistan spoke on GMA about ‘credible’ security threat
Speaking before the explosion outside the Kabul airport, acting U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson, on the ground in Kabul, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that the threat that prompted the U.S. Embassy to warn citizens to leave the airport on Wednesday was “clearly regarded as credible, as imminent, as compelling.”
“Being part of these huge crowds that remain around the gates and entrances to the airport is dangerous,” he said, adding the U.S. is working on “other ways on an individualized basis to assist them in getting to the airport in a safe and secure manner.”
“We will do as much as we possibly can, to get as many out as we possibly can for as long as we possibly can, while there is sufficient security that’s provided for us, and no less important, for the travelers themselves, provided by U.S. military forces,” Wilson said.
While the U.S. works to get as many Afghan allies and third-country nationals out of Afghanistan ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline, Wilson acknowledged that the “primary focus” is to evacuate American citizens and said some hopeful evacuees would be left behind.
“There undoubtedly will be people in this country who would like to get out who will be unable to,” he said, adding that the U.S. is talking with the Taliban on how to continue safe evacuations when troops are gone.
Aug 26, 10:05 am
Biden briefed on explosion outside airport in Kabul
A U.S. official confirms the explosion was at Abbey Gate — one of the main entrances to the airport — and that they are assessing casualty numbers right now.
A White House official told ABC News that Biden has been briefed on the situation.
The explosion outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul follows the U.S. Embassy in Kabul warning Americans on Wednesday night to leave the airport gates immediately due to a credible security threat.
Aug 26, 9:50 am
Explosion outside airport in Kabul: Pentagon
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby confirmed there was an explosion outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
“We can confirm an explosion outside Kabul airport. Casualties are unclear at this time. We will provide additional details when we can,” the tweet read.
U.S. officials had been warning of a credible security threat to the airport for several days.
Aug 26, 8:12 am
US, allies evacuate 13,400 people from Kabul in past 24 hours
The United States has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of some 95,700 people from Kabul since Aug. 14 when the Taliban closed in on Afghanistan’s capital, according to a White House official.
In a 24-hour period from Wednesday to Thursday, 17 U.S. military flights carried approximately 5,100 evacuees out of Kabul. Another 8,300 people were evacuated via 74 coalition aircraft. Since the end of July, approximately 101,300 people have been relocated from Kabul via U.S. military and coalition flights, the White House official said.
Aug 26, 6:31 am
‘Very credible reporting of an imminent attack” at Kabul airport, UK minister warns
U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey warned Thursday morning that there was “very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack” at the main international airport in Kabul, possibly within hours.
“There is now very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack and hence why the Foreign Office advice was changed last night,” Heappey said in interviews with BBC News. “The credibility of the reporting has now reached the stage where we believe that there is a very imminent, highly lethal attack possible within Kabul.”
As thousands race to evacuate Taliban-ruled Afghanistan before the Aug. 31 deadline for the United States to totally withdraw its troops, Heappey acknowledged that people are “desperate” and “there is an appetite by many in the queue to take their chances, but the reporting of this threat is very credible indeed and there is a real imminence to it.”
“There is every chance that as further reporting comes in, we may be able to change the advice again and process people anew but there’s no guarantee of that,” he added.
When asked in an interview with Sky News whether an attack could occur in the next few hours, Heappey replied: “Yes.”
The U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office released new guidance on Wednesday night telling people not to travel to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
“There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack,” the office said. “If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice.”
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a security alert warning of “security threats outside the gates of Kabul Airport” and advising Americans “to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates,” unless they “receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so.”
“U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the embassy said.
Aug 25, 8:05 pm
US Embassy alert tells people to avoid airport, leave certain gates immediately
The U.S. embassy in Kabul issued another alert, but this one with an urgent warning.
“U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” it said.
The alert says U.S. citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid the airport gates “unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so” — the same instructions they have given in recent days.
In a statement later Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson said, “As a general rule, we do not speak to intelligence, but this is a dynamic and volatile security situation on the ground. We take seriously the priority we attach to the safety and security of American citizens.”
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