Aussies safe as airlift operation ended just hours before attack

No Australians troops have been killed in two deadly bomb blasts in Kabul that killed more than 70 people including 12 American soldiers.

Aug 27, 2021, updated Aug 27, 2021
Opposition leader Peter Dutton. (ABC Photo)

Opposition leader Peter Dutton. (ABC Photo)

Defence Minister Peter Dutton confirmed Australian forces departed Kabul after the decision to complete a final airlift on Thursday.

“It’s a horrible, horrible day,” he told the Nine Network on Friday.

“I just grieve, like every decent person would, at the loss of life and in particular for us, the loss of the American lives.”

Suicide bombers – linked to the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) – killed at least 60 Afghan civilians and injured 143 others in the twin attacks that killed 11 US Marines and one Navy medic.

Dutton said US troops provided security for thousands of Australian citizens and visa holders who escaped through the Abbey Gate and the Baron hotel where the blasts were detonated.

“Our troops will be devastated by the loss of their comrades. These are people they’ve worked alongside over the course of the last week,” he said.

“It’s remarkable how many people they have brought out, that they’ve saved, particularly women and children, but everybody is devastated by this.”

Australia helped about 4000 people escape Afghanistan, which has descended into chaos after the Taliban rapidly seized control following a US decision to withdraw from the country after 20 years.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had warned earier on Thursday that people should not to travel to Kabul airport because of the risk of a terrorist attack.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings.

“These people are more extreme than the Taliban and are basically at war with the Taliban – it is a horribly complex situation,” Dutton said.

“I’m very pleased and relieved our soldiers have departed from Kabul and we took the decision to lift the last of our people yesterday and they are safely in the United Arab Emirates.”

While the rescue mission exceeded the government’s expectations, some Australian citizens and hundreds of Afghans with visas remain in Afghanistan.

Dutton said some people were being advised to go to other borders.

“We hope commercial flights are available again soon, but, as we’ve seen overnight, and as the intelligence continues to indicate, more terrorist attacks are likely,” he warned.

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the bombings were a reminder of how dangerous the evacuation operation was.

“This is completely tragic,” he told Nine.

“It just seems to put an exclamation mark on what has been a devastating few days.”

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