London, Aug 26: The UK government has made an urgent update to its travel advisory for Afghanistan, warning people to steer clear of Kabul airport due to an ongoing and high threat of a terrorist attack, which will hamper the urgent airlift and rescue operations.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said on Wednesday that the situation in the region remains volatile , with the advice being for British citizens and other evacuees to find a safe location and await further advice.
The development is related to threats of an Islamic State (ISIS) Afghanistan affiliate, dubbed Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K, which is known for conducting suicide bombings and car bombs.
The security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile. There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack, the FCDO updated travel advisory reads.
Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport. If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice, it says.
It comes as the US and Australia have issued similar alerts and American President Joe Biden had alluded to this threat when he announced his decision earlier this week not to extend the August 31 exit deadline for US-led NATO troops in the country after the Taliban takeover.
Kabul airport is currently being defended and run by the US, which has 5,800 troops on the ground. However, they are dependent on Taliban support which leaves the international troops vulnerable.
The UK government said its operation to remove British nationals, as well as Afghans who worked for the UK and other vulnerable individuals, is moving at a significant pace .
According to the Ministry of Defence, more than 11,000 people have been evacuated with the help of 1,000 UK troops since August 13 when the Taliban advance was mounted.
The total also includes British embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the UK government's relocation programme Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and some evacuees from allied countries.
On Wednesday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that about 2,000 people have been airlifted back to the UK in the last 24 hours and that "the system is operating at full speed".
"We will use every last remaining hour and day to get everyone we can back, the British nationals, the Afghans who worked so loyally for us, we are getting the Chevening scholars back, also women's rights defenders and journalists," he said.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told members of Parliament that some Afghans wanting to flee to Britain may be better off trying to reach one of the country's borders and making their way to a third country.