As Kabul airport is attacked, French evacuation will end by Friday

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The evacuations by France of French citizens and Afghan families will end this Friday evening, Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced. This comes as two explosions near Kabul airport have reportedly claimed at least a dozen lives.

Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport on Thursday, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of an airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover.

Initial reports say at least 13 people were killed and 15 wounded, including children.

US officils say the complex attack was believed to have been carried out by the Islamic State armed group.

The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan is far more radical than the Taliban. Western officials had warned on Wednesday evening of an imminent attack, urging people to leave the airport.

Speaking on RTL radio, before the Kabul airport explosions, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said: "From tomorrow evening, we will no longer be able to carry out evacuations."

The imminent withdrawal of the 6,000 American soldiers responsible for securing Kabul airport forces the other countries still present in Afghanistan to leave in their turn.

The US, Australia and the UK had all reported a "very high threat of terrorist attack" around the airport on Wednesday night.

The three countries advised their citizens to leave the area and await further instructions.

2,500 people evacuated

"We have repatriated the French, Afghans who have contributed in one way or another to the army and families, artists, journalists, around 2,500 people," Jean Castex explained on RTL.

"There will be a second phase that we will manage with the other European countries and the international community, notably the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR," he said.

Responding to a question on the security risk involved in taking in refugees from Afghanistan, the prime minister recalled that France's action in Kabul was first and foremost a response to a "humanitarian disaster".

"We are monitoring all the people, we are watching their integration and their behaviour," Jean Castex continued, referring in particular to the conviction by a French court on Wednesday of a recently-arrived Afghan man who left the administrative control zone specified for him by the Interior Ministry.

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