The UK’s ambassador to Afghanistan will be evacuated from Kabul within 48 hours, according to reports, as Taliban insurgents close in on the capital.
Sir Laurie Bristow will be flown out of the country along with other embassy staff as Britain closes down its outpost in the country, the Telegraph and Times reported.
Taliban fighters drew closer to Kabul on Saturday after capturing a string of key cities. The capital and Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan, are now the only cities not in Taliban hands, prompting the United States and other western countries to also rush to evacuate their citizens.
A plan to evacuate Britons had been due to last weeks and the government said earlier this week that the ambassador would remain in Kabul leading a small team at “a more secure location”.
The Taliban’s rapid advance on the capital is believed to have pushed British troops to speed up the evacuation.
By Saturday night, only tens of British officials and diplomats remained in Afghanistan, down from around 500 earlier in the week, with the ambassador due to leave on Sunday or Monday.
Britain said on Thursday that it was sending 600 troops to help British nationals and local translators leave the country as the security situation deteriorated.
The government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office could not immediately be reached for comment.