British Embassy in Afghanistan Scrubs Twitter Account as Evacuation Effort Enters Final Stage
Earlier, the UK Ministry of Defence confirmed that the last flight purely for the evacuation of Afghans had left Kabul, as further airlifts would be including evacuees as well as British diplomatic staff and military personnel as part of the winding down operation.
The official Twitter handle of the UK Embassy in Afghanistan, set up in 2013 and boasting more than 109,000 followers, has apparently been deactivated
The disappearance of the account coincided with Britain’s final phase of its evacuation effort from Kabul airport. The official website for the embassy noted that operations at its Kabul mission were “temporarily suspended in response to the deterioration in the security situation” in Afghanistan.
There has not been any official statement from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Netizens offered their own explanations for what had triggered the sudden disappearance of the account.
Others on Twitter recalled a Times report that stated documents had been found in the Kabul diplomatic quarter identifying a number of Afghan staffers at the facility. Some of them, according to the contact information discovered, had stayed on in the war-torn country and were in danger of retaliation from the Taliban* Islamist group. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee vowed to launch an inquiry into the oversight.
Last Phase of Airlift
Meanwhile, as the UK hurries to wrap up its evacuation from Hamid Karzai International Airport, UK ambassador to Afghanistan Laurie Bristow said it was "time to close this phase" of the effort.
Nearly 15,000 people had been brought to safety, according to him. The last flight purely to evacuate civilians from Afghanistan has left Kabul, confirmed the UK Ministry of Defence. Further flights leaving from the city’s airport would be able to carry evacuees but would also be transporting UK diplomatic staff and military personnel as the operation winds down.
On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced a “great sense of regret” over the fact that some people would be left behind.
Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Tugendhat described the efforts to withdraw people from Afghanistan as a “sprint finish after a not exactly sprint start”, speaking on BBC Breakfast. He warned on Saturday of the risk of the “biggest hostage crisis the UK has ever seen” if Afghan interpreters and other staff, as well as remaining British citizens, are seized by the Taliban.
Defence Minister Ben Wallace noted on Friday that no additional evacuees would be processed ahead of the August 31 deadline for all foreign forces to leave the country, now governed by the Taliban*.
Wallace lamented the end of the operation, voicing “deep regret that not everyone has been able to be evacuated during this process”, adding that up to 150 British nationals are believed to remain in the country.
He also acknowledged that between 800 and 1,100 Afghans who aided British forces in the country would not be able to leave. The final stage of the massive airlift of people from Kabul was marred by a deadly bombing
that struck the outer perimeter of the hub on Thursday.
Daesh-K*, a group that claims to be affiliated with Daesh, took responsibility
for the attack, which left 13 US service members and scores of Afghans dead. Two Britons and the child of a British national have been confirmed to be among those killed in the Kabul airport attack, according to the UK foreign secretary.
“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”, Dominic Raab said.
* Taliban, Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) and Daesh-K are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.