London: The UK said on Friday that as the frantic evacuation from Kabul Airport is drawing to a close, it plans to complete the airlift from Afghanistan “within a few hours.”
“We will process those people that we have brought with us, the 1,000 people approximately inside the airfield now,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News.
“And we will seek a way to continue to find a few people in the crowd, where we can, but overall the main processing has now closed and we have a matter of hours.”
Wallace said that Britain “closed the Baron Hotel” at 0330 GMT, where people who wanted to fly to Britain gathered.
It also closed the processing center for asylum seekers and closed the gate of the monastery, one of the entrances to the Kabul airport and one of the target areas of two suicide bombings on Thursday.
Wallace said that since the Taliban came to power in mid-August, nearly 14,000 British citizens and Afghans have been rescued during the British evacuation, but he added: “The sad truth is that not everyone can escape.”
He told LBC Radio that Afghanistan may have “approximately 100 to 150 British nationals”, some of whom are willing to stay.
He added that according to the British plan, the 800 to 1,100 Afghans eligible to relocate “have not succeeded”.
The Times reported that documents containing the contact information of Afghan staff and job applicants were left on the ground in the compound of the British Embassy in Kabul.
A reporter who dialed the phone number found that earlier this week, some of the people named were still in Afghanistan and therefore risked retaliation.
Wallace told LBC that he learned this from the front page report, “obviously this is not good enough.”
“I think the prime minister will be asking some questions,” he added.
The twin suicide bombs ripped through crowds outside Kabul airport on Thursday, killing at least 85 people including 13 US troops and deepening panic in the final days of the evacuation effort.
The bombings, claimed by the Islamic State group, left scenes of carnage outside the airport where thousands of Afghans desperate to flee their country had massed.
Wallace said that the “horrendous” attacks “didn’t hasten our departure.
“We closed the Baron Hotel almost exactly on schedule. The threat is obviously going to grow the closer we get to leaving.”