Embassy warns Americans to avoid Kabul airport gates
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Wednesday warned citizens there to avoid traveling to the airport and to stay away from certain gates, citing “security threats” in the area.
The security alert told Americans to avoid the area “unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative” to travel to the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
“U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately,” the embassy added.
While the reason for the security alert was not immediately clear, the notice followed a similar warning issued by Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office telling its citizens in Afghanistan to avoid the airport due to “an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack.”
The British office added that anyone “in the area of the airport” should “move away to a safe location and await further advice.”
When reached for comment, a State Department spokesperson told The Hill that the situation was rapidly evolving and that it was prioritizing the safety of American citizens on the ground in Afghanistan.
The spokesperson said any further updates on the situation would be provided on the Kabul embassy’s website.
The Hill has also reached out to the embassy for comment.
The security warnings come as U.S. military and intelligence analysts have been warning of threats from ISIS-K, an affiliate of the Islamic State that is a sworn enemy to both the U.S. and the Taliban.
A U.S. defense official reportedly told CNN on Wednesday that there was “a very specific threat stream” from ISIS-K about potential attacks against people gathered outside the airport, though there have been no other specific reports confirming this.
Bipartisan criticism against the Biden administration has grown due to ongoing reports of threats, violence and intimidation facing Americans and Afghan allies desperately traveling to the airport.
Biden admitted Tuesday that there were risks of terrorist attacks near Kabul airport but noted that this situation would only get worse if the U.S. stayed past his Aug. 31 deadline to complete evacuations.
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians,” he said in remarks from the White House.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. has evacuated roughly 82,300 people since Aug. 14, including 4,500 people with U.S. passports, with roughly 1,500 Americans still in Afghanistan, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.