The Foreign Office issued new guidance telling anyone near the airport to “move away to a safe location and await further advice.”
The US has set a deadline of 31 August for the withdrawal of its troops, with President Joe Biden rejecting calls from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other allies for an extension. Mr Heappey did not give a date for the last UK evacuation flights, but said it was likely that UK and other foreign troops would have to leave before the last American airlifts.
On Thursday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the “overwhelming majority” of eligible people had been evacuated from the country. Johnson confirmed that about 15,000 had been flown out by the UK so far. The FCDO (Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office) also warned that travelling by road was “extremely dangerous” with people alleged to have been “mistreated” on their way to the airport.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Mr Heappey said: “There is now very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack and hence why the Foreign Office advice was changed last night.” He later told BBC Breakfast: “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.”
Asked by Sky News whether an attack could occur in the coming few hours, Mr Heappey replied: “Yes.” Stressing the “severe” nature of the threat, he told the BBC that it had created an “extraordinarily challenging situation, both on the ground and as a set of decisions to be taken in Whitehall.” “People are desperate, people are fearing for their lives anyway, and so I think there’s an appetite among many in the queue to take their chances,” he said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEWSWEEK
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