KABUL airport is facing an “imminent” and “lethal” terror threat within hours, the armed forces minister urgently warned today.
James Heappey said: “I can’t stress the desperation of the situation enough – the threat is credible, it is imminent, it is lethal.”
An ISIS splinter group operating in Afghanistan called ISIS-K are believed to be targeting British and US troops.
Mr Heappey said an attack could come “within hours” – and revealed he had been prepped with media lines in case a bomb went off mid-interview.
The severe terror threat means time is quickly running out to evacuate remaining Brits and refugees from the country.
But Brits and Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban on RAF flights are being begged not to come to the airport – and instead find safety.
The Minister said: “We wouldn’t be saying this if we weren’t genuinely concerned about offering Islamic State a target that is unimaginable.”
Crowds of people are still swarming the airport trying to board one of the airlifts.
Around 400 Brits are still on the ground, and Mr Heappey said officials are urgently trying to find them safe passage.
There will be 11 more flights out of Kabul today but the minister declined to say whether there will be more on Friday.
He told Sky News: “I think there is an appetite by many in the queue to take their chances, but the reporting of this threat is very credible indeed and there is a real imminence to it.”
Read our Afghanistan live blog for the latest updates
Late last night the Foreign Office updates their advice for UK nationals in Afghanistan.
It said: “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.”
Mr Heappey said the Government will “do our best to protect those who are there”.
But he warned the “window of opportunity” to evacuate people was rapidly closing.
Troops are racing to airlift their own nationals home – as well as desperate Afghan refugees – before the August 31 deadline to withdraw.
Terrorists are also trying to exploit the carnage at the airport – where more than 10,000 people are awaiting evacuation – to sneak aboard RAF flights back to Britain.
Security checks means UK officials at the airport are unable to process evacuees at breakneck speed.
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