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Germany, Canada Join Other Nations In Ending Evacuations From Afghanistan As Deadline Draws Near


Evacuees board a flight out of Afghanistan at Kabul airport on August 24.

Germany has joined Canada, Hungary, and other NATO members in announcing an end to its operations to evacuate personnel and Afghan citizens from Afghanistan as an end-of-month deadline for the foreign troops' withdrawal draws closer.

Pressure to complete the evacuations of thousands of foreigners and Afghans has intensified, as the United States and allies urged people to move away from Kabul airport on August 26 due to the threat of an Islamic State attack on Western troops. An explosion was reported outside Kabul airport on August 26.

Two explosions suspected of being suicide bomb attacks on August 26 rocked Kabul airport, leaving multiple people dead, including U.S. troops, and bringing more chaos to the scene ahead of an August 31 deadline for the completion of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the last of the German military aircraft and troops had arrived in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, on the evening of August 26.

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That flight had been loading at the time of the attack outside the airport and the German commander then set in motion plans for an “emergency departure," Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

The attack "made clear that an extension of the operation in Kabul was not possible. The security situation on the ground, and also the Taliban’s decision not to tolerate an extension beyond August 31, made it impossible,” according to the minister.

She said that Germany had evacuated 5,347 people from at least 45 nations, including more than 4,000 Afghans.

Prior the attack at the Kabul airport, Canada also announced it had ended its evacuation mission in Afghanistan.

"We stayed in Afghanistan as long as we could," Defense Ministry representative Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre told reporters. "We wish we could have stayed longer and rescued everyone."

The Dutch government earlier announced it would stop evacuation flights from Kabul on August 26 in what it acknowledged was a "painful moment" that would leave some people behind in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

"This is a painful moment because it means that despite all the great efforts of the recent period, people who are eligible for evacuation to the Netherlands will be left behind," Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag and Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld wrote in a letter to parliament.

The Dutch Embassy and military team at Kabul airport will also fly out on the last planes on August 26, it said.

In neighboring Belgium, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the country had ended its evacuation operations after U.S. sources informed the government of an imminent suicide bomb attack around Kabul airport.

Some 1,400 people were evacuated by Belgium from Kabul, with the last flight arriving in Islamabad late on August 25, De Croo told a news conference.

In Budapest, the Hungarian Defense Ministry said in a statement on August 26 that its two military passenger planes and all its troops taking part in evacuations have left Afghanistan and returned safely to Hungary.

Hungary said the previous day that its evacuation flights from Afghanistan were nearing an end after the Central European country airlifted more than 500 people from Kabul.

Denmark’s Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said late on August 25 that her country had also completed the evacuation of embassy staff and their families from the Afghan capital Kabul, and bluntly warned: "It is no longer safe to fly from Kabul airport."

The last plane involved in the Danish evacuation mission had already landed in the Pakistani capital, Bramsen said.

France has said its last plane will leave late on August 27.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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