The security situation in Kabul is getting worse to the point that the American government is now warning citizens to hold in place and not go to the airport until they receive specific instructions. This is after the US had to use helicopters to transport Americans from a nearby hotel.
Helicopters Used to Transport Americans 200 Meters
THE BARON hotel in Kabul advertises as a “safe, secure housing, lodging and or accommodation in Kabul, Afghanistan.” Their website says they are located less than 1 mile from the Kabul International Airport and “within the buffer zone of security” for the airport.
However, not much in Kabul is the same as it was last week and that includes even that basic description. That distance is from the hotel to the airport terminal but that is not where Americans have been headed as they try to get out of Afghanistan. Instead, there are gates at the security fence around the airport that people have been getting through. The Taliban has set up security checkpoints at these gates which has made it even more difficult to get into the airport. So much for the “buffer zone of security” now.
So, the entrance to the airport gate (the Abbey Gate) from the hotel was a mere 200 meters away yet even this close distance was too much for Americans to cross (about 650 feet) due to the rising security concerns in the area. For the 169 Americans at the hotel, the US used 3 military helicopters (CH-47 Chinooks) from that hotel to the airport. According to the Pentagon, this decision was made by the local commanders at the scene.
That was on Friday and just now, the US State Department said: “Because of potential security threats outside the gates at the 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.”
More people are getting out all the time and I hope that this is able to continue and safely. Many countries have troops in country now to help their own citizens get out and I believe that this instant was the first time that the US military had left the airport in a recovery effort like this.
Featured image is a CH-47 Chinook helicopter