The U.S. embassy in Kabul on Saturday is warning trapped American citizens to “avoid” the Kabul airport because of “security threats outside the gates.”
“Because of potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport,” the embassy advised on their website, “we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so.”
The warning for Americans “to stay away from the Afghan capital’s airport” is due to “potential security threats outside the gates,” “a sign of growing volatility at the choke point for thousands of Afghans desperate to escape the country’s new Taliban rulers,” the New York Times reported. “All of the entrance gates to the airport were closed on Saturday morning because of the dangerous situation.”
The embassy’s website also noted the following safety protocols:
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in large crowds.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities including movement restrictions related to curfews.
- Have a contingency plan for emergencies and review the Traveler’s Checklist.
- Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program(STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
The crisis on the ground in Kabul comes after President Joe Biden claimed Friday that to the “best of our knowledge – Taliban checkpoints – they are letting through people showing American passports.”
But Biden’s story does not square with media reports on the ground or with his own Defense Secretary, who stated Friday that Americans have been abused and beaten on the ground:
This statement alone from Austin contradicts a lot of what Biden just said at the White House about Americans not having a hard time getting to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) August 20, 2021
CNN reporting on the ground also confirms Washington Post reports, which indicate the Taliban fighters are blocking “access” to the airport “with gunfire and violence.” In another incident, the Taliban even attacked CNN’s camera crew.
“It’s definitely chaotic,” Clarissa Ward reported on the ground. “It’s definitely dangerous.”
Media reports suggest an estimated 10,000 to 40,000 Americans are in Afghanistan.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø