France ends evacuations at Kabul airport

France ended its evacuations from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan late Friday, officials said, one day after a suicide bombing left scenes of carnage outside Kabul airport. The airlift had to be stopped because “the security conditions were no longer being met at the airport”, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defence Minister Florence Parly said in the wake of Thursday’s attack, which killed scores of Afghan civilians and 13 US troops.

The ministers announced that evacuations drew to a close with nearly 3,000 transferred out of Afghanistan. In a statement, the ministers blamed the lack of security on the “rapid disengagement of the American forces”. “The team at France’s embassy in Kabul reached Abu Dhabi before returning to France,” the statement said, suggesting that Ambassador David Martinon was returning home, too. A French base in Abu Dhabi has been the transit points for French evacuees before heading to Paris. President Emmanuel Macron had said on Thursday that the ambassador and other diplomatic staff would leave Kabul ‘in the next few days’ aboard one of the last French flights out. He said the ambassador would maintain his posting but ‘for security reasons he will be operating from Paris’ for the time being. France has called for setting up humanitarian operations to assist the thousands of Afghan nationals who failed to get a flight out to leave by other means. A French delegation met Thursday with Taliban representatives with the talks centring on the situation at the Kabul airport and the airlift operations, the ministers said.