Number of Britons Left in Afghanistan in 'Low Hundreds', Says Foreign Secretary
15:54 GMT 31.08.2021 (Updated: 16:00 GMT 31.08.2021)
Dominic Raab has come under fire for failing to call his former Afghan counterpart — while on holiday in Crete — to discuss the evacuation of those who worked for Western forces from Kabul.
The UK's foreign secretary has said the number of British citizens still in Afghanistan following the final troop pull-out is in the "low hundreds".
Dominic Raab admitted on BBC Radio Four's Today programme on Tuesday morning he was unable to give a “definitive” number of those left behind after Operation Pitting came to an end over the weekend.
“It’s very difficult to give you a firm figure", Raab said. "I can tell you that for UK nationals we’ve secured since April over 5,000, and we’re in the low hundreds".
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US President Joe Biden's administration has come under fire for ordering the hurried, chaotic, and bloody evacuation of its Kabul embassy and citizens that swept its allies up in the panic to get out of Afghanistan. More than 200 people, including 13 US servicepeople, were killed in a series of incidents as people desperately tried to pack into Kabul's airport and board military transport planes.
Raab also denied accusations gleaned from leaked Pentagon documents that British authorities insisted the Abbey Gate entrance to the airport — targeted by a suicide bomber on Thursday — be left open to allow British citizens to gain access.
Witnesses have told Sputnik and the BBC that US troops fired into the packed crowd after the bomber detonated his explosives, killing and injuring civilian bystanders. A US Air Force drone attack on Sunday — in retaliation for the bombing — killed an Afghan former US Army employee and nine members of his family, including at least seven children.
Raab announced last week that two UK citizens and the teenage child of another had died in the airport bombing. British media have identified 60-year-old London grocer Musa Popal and 29-year-old Aldershot-based taxi driver Mohammed Niazi — both naturalised immigrants from Afghanistan — among the dead, along with Niazi's Afghan-national wife and two of their four children.