Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Taliban Moves To Seal Off Kabul Airport As Evacuation Deadline Approaches

It comes after the UK's last dedicated flight purely for the evacuation effort from Afghanistan leaving Kabul earlier today.

The Taliban has deployed extra forces around Kabul's airport to prevent large crowds from gathering following a devastating suicide attack earlier this week.

It comes as the massive US-led airlift winds down ahead of its 31 August deadline, with the UK's last dedicated flight purely for the evacuation effort from Afghanistan leaving Kabul earlier today.

New checkpoints have appeared on roads leading to the airport, some manned by uniformed Taliban fighters with military vehicles and night-vision goggles captured from Afghan security forces.

Areas, where large crowds of people had gathered over the past two weeks in the hope of fleeing the country following the Taliban takeover, are now largely empty.

Sources in Kabul said Taliban personnel claimed to have been told by the Americans to only let US passport-holders through a final checkpoint close to the airport.

Watch: Afghanistan – what's next for Afghans left behind?

On Saturday, the Taliban fired warning shots and deployed coloured smoke on a road leading to the airport, sending dozens of people scattering, according to a video circulating online.

A suicide attack on Thursday by an affiliate of so-called Islamic State, ISIS-K, killed 169 Afghans and 13 US service members, and there are concerns that the group, which is more radical than the Taliban, could strike again.

Following the attack, the US military struck back at IS – bombing one member of the militant group in Afghanistan less than 48 hours after the Kabul suicide bombing.

US Central Command said it carried out a drone strike against an IS member in Nangarhar who was believed to be involved in planning attacks against the US in Kabul.

The strike killed one individual, and spokesman Captain William Urban said there were no known civilian casualties.

It is not clear if the individual killed in the strike was involved in Thursday's attack.

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information by visiting the British Army website and the Government's website.

Further details about support available can be found on our website.

Cover image: Kabul airport and surrounding area (Picture: Google Earth/Geoeye/Maxar Technologies).