Afghanistan: Three British nationals including a child die in Kabul airport attack

27 August 2021, 16:38 | Updated: 27 August 2021, 22:00

The blast claimed the lives of three British nationals
The blast claimed the lives of three British nationals. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Three British citizens, including a child, have died in the attack at Kabul airport.

The Foreign Office announced their deaths on Friday afternoon and said they were trying to leave Afghanistan and get to safety.

Two adults were killed alongside the child of other British nationals.

Isis-K, an Afghan offshoot of the Islamic State group, is thought to be behind the blast, which also killed more than 70 Afghans and 13 US troops. The group, which is a rival of the Taliban, claimed responsibility.

Boris Johnson pledged to move "heaven and earth" to help get remaining people out - with up to 150 Brits and 1,000 eligible Afghans still thought to have been in the country this morning.

He criticised the airport attack as "contemptible".

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement: "I was deeply saddened to learn that two British nationals and the child of another British national were killed by yesterday's terror attack, with two more injured.

"These were innocent people and it is a tragedy that as they sought to bring their loved ones to safety in the UK they were murdered by cowardly terrorists.

Read more: Afghanistan: UK evacuation of Kabul enters final hours with '150 Brits' left behind

Read more: Afghanistan attack: Everything you need to know about the chaos at Kabul airport

"Yesterday's despicable attack underlines the dangers facing those in Afghanistan and reinforces why we are doing all we can to get people out. We are offering consular support to their families.

"We will not turn our backs on those who look to us in their hour of need, and we will never be cowed by terrorists."

The devastating attacks came as countries try to evacuate their citizens and Afghans who helped them during their campaign against the Taliban.

They are trying to flee Taliban rule, worrying the group will curb human rights and launch reprisals.

But the Islamists do not appear to be behind the blast, with Isis claiming responsibility for the explosion - which had been anticipated by international forces. Further attempts are feared.

While the airport is garrisoned by US and British forces, the Taliban is responsible for policing and security in the area outside now it has seized control of the country.

Asked about the deaths of three British nationals, Mr Johnson said his thoughts were with their loved ones and added: "I think what their loss really underlines is the urgency of getting on and concluding Operation Pitting in the way that we are, and also underlines the bravery of our armed services, our troops, everybody else involved."

The PM went on: "Of course, as we come down to the final hours of the operation there will sadly be people who haven't got through, people who might qualify.

"What I would say to them is that we will shift heaven and earth to help them get out, we will do whatever we can in the second phase."

When asked whether the scenes seen in Afghanistan amounted to a national humiliation, he said: "It's certainly not something that... the timing of this is certainly not the one that this country would have chosen, and I think that everybody understands that."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was "incredibly sad" to hear of the deaths.

Meanwhile, on Friday, one of the 13 US troops to die was named as Max Soviak, a US Navy medic.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, President Joe Biden said: "To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this - we will not forgive.

"We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay."

Just one suicide bomber is thought to have attacked Kabul airport's Abbey Gate. Reports that a second blast took place nearby at the Baron Hotel, where evacuees are processed to leave Afghanistan, are now thought to be inaccurate.

Attention has now turned to how many people can get out before the planned withdrawal on August 31.

The UK's defence secretary, Ben Wallace, admitted not everyone will get out, with about 100-150 Brits thought to be left in the country. It is thought the UK's evacuation is due to conclude within hours.

Mr Wallace fears another 1,000 Afghans will also not make it out amid fears the Taliban will punish those who helped the previous Afghan regime and international forces.