Evacuations aborted after threat of suicide attacks at Kabul Airport

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) has explained the country’s decision to halt its evacuation from Kabul earlier than anticipated.  The Belgian military authorities received information about the threat of suicide attacks targeting the crowds gathered at Kabul Airport.

“Security has always been our chief concern” said Mr De Croo, who also pointed to the increased difficulty of accessing the airport. The Belgian leader noted that a number of people who should be evacuated still remained in Kabul and that the foreign ministry was trying to contact them.

It was at 22:30 PKT on Wednesday that the last Belgian Hercules C130 landed in Islamabad (Pakistan) concluding operation Red Kite.  The operation was halted after Belgium received information about a terrorist threat from the US and other nations.

Alexander De Croo: “Yesterday we received information from the US military and other countries about the possible threat of suicide attacks targeting the crowds at the airport. The Belgian foreign ministry contacted the people it could alert them to the serious increase in the threat.  We also noticed access gates to the airport were being closed.  Very few people were getting through”.

The PM also noted that the operation to keep the airport open was coming to a close. 

“We didn’t want to end up in a situation in which our soldiers, diplomats and evacuees couldn’t get out”

Belgium acknowledges some people, who had counted on evacuation to Belgium, still remain in the country. 

Foreign minister Wilmès (Francophone liberal) says 114 people of whom the Belgian authorities are unaware they have left the country have been contacted.  Ms Wilmès says the exact figure relating to Belgian evacuees in the country is unclear and will develop.  “We played safe and contacted as many people as possible.  We told them about the deteriorating security situation at the airport and that our Hercules would no longer take to the air.  We have asked them to contact our embassy if they wish to be repatriated.”

So far 12 people responded.

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