UPDATE: US, UK, Australia Warn Citizens to Leave Kabul Airport Immediately, Citing Terrorism Threat

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

Just after 7 PM Eastern time Wednesday, the US State Department issued a warning advising US citizens in Afghanistan to avoid traveling to the Kabul airport, to avoid the airport gates unless they are told to go there, and for any US citizens at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate to leave immediately.

The warning to leave immediately is about as bold as diplomatic speak can get in broadcasting that there is an imminent threat to the people at those gates. If all of the US citizens are concentrated at the airport gates, that sure makes a high-value target for the Taliban and ISIS-K; video of an attack on the citizens would be an emphatic declaration of victory.

The warning on the State Department website reads:

Event: Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, 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.

U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.

Actions to take:

  • 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.

UPDATE 10:00 PM EDT

The UK updated their travel advice for Afghanistan, adding information about the threat of terrorist attack (emphasis added).

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all travel to Afghanistan. You should not travel to Afghanistan.

The security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile. There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack. Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport. If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice.

Commercial flights are not currently operating. If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately.

The Australian government has issued a similar warning. From Reuters:

There is a high threat of a terrorist attack near the airport in Kabul, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said on Thursday, as Canberra urged its citizens and those with a visa for Australia to leave the area.

“There is an ongoing and very high threat of a terrorist attack,” Payne told reporters in Canberra.

All three governments advised their citizens to get out of the country if they are able to safely.