British holidaymaker, 21, evacuated from Afghanistan after hiding from Taliban

·4-min read

A British student who travelled to Afghanistan on holiday has been evacuated to Dubai after being forced in to hiding by the advance of the Taliban.

Loughborough University student Miles Routledge, 21, received widespread attention and criticism on social media having travelled to the country on a planned trip last week despite the extremist group’s gains in the nation.

Mr Routledge had shared updates about his experiences over recent days as the Taliban seized the country, including claims he had encountered the group’s members, seen dead bodies in the street and shielded from gunfire in a Nato-controlled safe house.

The happy ending: landed in Dubai thanks to the brilliant people at the British army. All safe!

Posted by Miles Le-vesconte Routledge on Tuesday, August 17, 2021

On Tuesday he then told followers that he had got a place on a list for evacuation from Kabul, and hours later posted a video of himself and dozens of others landing in what he described as a British Army plane.

“The happy ending: landed in Dubai thanks to the brilliant people at the British army. All safe!” he wrote.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed UK military flights had been carried out from Kabul to Dubai around that time, but was not able to verify whether the footage was filmed on board one of them.

The previous day, Mr Routledge told the PA news agency he and other civilians, including some other British citizens, had been given refuge in what he described as a Nato-controlled building in Kabul.

A spokesman for Nato was unable to confirm his claim.

It came amid chaotic scenes at the city’s nearby airport, where hundreds of people attempted to board a US Air Force plane, with several plunging to their death as it took off.

Gunshots were also fired at the scene and at least seven people died as the chaos unfolded, US officials said.

In voice notes sent by Mr Routledge to PA on Monday afternoon, rapid gunshots akin to machine gun fire could be heard in the background.

“It’s constant at some points. It’s coming from the airport,” Mr Routledge said at the time.

“Right now it’s very close, no more than 100m from our compound,” he added.

Despite the violence, Mr Routledge had said he felt safe in the building.

Miles Routledge poses for a selfie in Afghanistan (Miles Routledge/PA)
Miles Routledge poses for a selfie in Afghanistan (Miles Routledge/PA)

“Ngl (not going to lie), you get used to it, it’s like this at night.

“I’m just ready to run with a backpack at a moment’s notice,” he said in a WhatsApp message.

“These Nato guys are amazing, they really do make you feel safe and looked after.”

He added: “We’ve got a pool, canteen, gym, clothes machine and even a shop.

“It’s comfortable when we can use that stuff.”

Mr Routledge, a physics student who also works in wealth management, went viral online after posting messages on Facebook, streaming site Twitch and the 4chan discussion board about his trip to the country.

He arrived in Kabul this week as an alternative to a beach holiday, having looked up the most dangerous places to visit in the world and picked it off a list.

Mr Routledge had previously posted photos from a leisure visit to Chernobyl.

Miles Routledge
Mr Routledge admitted he had ‘bitten off more than I can chew’ (Miles Routledge/PA)

Earlier in his visit to Afghanistan he had posed for a photo with what he believed was a military machine gun after speaking to soldiers on a trip outside of Kabul.

Shortly afterwards, however, Mr Routledge said he had seen dead bodies in the streets around the capital as violence escalated.

In a message to followers, he admitted he had “bitten off more than I can chew”, but had known the risks when he travelled.

He told PA he was not currently in contact with his family but said Loughborough University had been in touch to offer its support.

The university said in a statement: “We are aware of reports that one of our students is currently in Afghanistan.

“We are in touch with the student and have offered them our support and continue to monitor the situation closely.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has been approached for comment.

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