Attack will not slow evacuation: Johnson

Kabul blasts will not slow down evacuation efforts, says British PM Boris Johnson.
Kabul blasts will not slow down evacuation efforts, says British PM Boris Johnson.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the suspected suicide bombings which struck the crowded gates of Kabul airport, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens more, would not slow down evacuation efforts.

After Johnson chaired an emergency response meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, he said Britain's airlift would continue "going up until the last moment."

"We are able to continue with the programme in the way we have been running it, according to the timetable that we have got and that is what we are going to do," Johnson said on Thursday.

At least two explosions struck the crowded gates of Kabul airport, causing a bloodbath among desperate civilians hoping to flee and casting the final days of the Western airlift of its citizens and allies into chaos.

Johnson said that the military have been preparing for the evacuation for months and were aware of the security threats.

"There were always going to be vulnerabilities to terrorism and opportunistic terrorist attacks. We condemn them, I think they are despicable, but I am afraid they are something we had to prepare for," he said.

Johnson paid tribute to the Afghans and members of the U.S. military who were killed. At least four US military personnel were killed in the blasts at the airport, sources told Reuters.

"We extend our condolences both to the United States of America and the people of Afghanistan," he said.

Johnson would not comment on who the government suspected was behind the attack.

His government issued a notice to airlines to avoid flying below 25,000 feet (7,620 m) over Afghanistan after the attack.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said government is "dedicated" to helping those who do not manage to escape Afghanistan before foreign forces are scheduled to withdraw from the country on August 31.

Australian Associated Press