A “lethal” terrorist attack targeting those who are desperately hoping to be airlifted from Afghanistan could happen within hours, a minister has warned.
James Heappey, the armed forces minister, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme the advice to those queuing around Kabul airport had changed, and that they should return to a “safe place”, because of a “credible” risk to life. It has been reported that the threat is posed by Isis-K.
But despite the change to advice, thousands remain in the area outside the airport, amid growing fears today could be the last day in which civilians are evacuated by British forces.
“People are desperate, people are fearing for their lives, so there is an appetite among many in the queue to take their chances,” Mr Heappey said. “But the reporting of this threat is very credible indeed. There is a real imminence to it.”
He added: “A very large number of people have chosen not to move away… I can only say the threat is severe.”
Speaking later to Sky News, Mr Heappey said the threat was “very imminent, very credible and very lethal”.
Asked whether this could take place within hours, Mr Heappey simply said: “Yes.”
The minister confirmed that a further 1,988 people have left Kabul over eight RAF flights in the past 24 hours, and estimated that the number of translators and other Afghan workers who qualify for relocation is now “potentially half” of the reported figure of 2,000. Around 400 British nationals also remain.