The Latest: Albania to shelter Afghans headed for US
The Latest developments on Afghanistan, where a Taliban blitz has taken large swaths of territory just weeks before the final pullout of American and NATO troops:
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s prime minister says his country will temporarily shelter hundreds of Afghans who worked with the Western peacekeeping military forces and are now threatened by the Taliban.
On his Facebook page, Edi Rama said the U.S. government had asked Albania to serve as a “transit place for a certain number of Afghan political emigrants who have the United States as their final destination.”
“No doubt we shall not say no,” he said.
He added that the Albanian government has also responded positively to requests from two U.S. NGOs to shelter hundreds of Afghan intellectuals and women activists who have been threatened with execution by the Taliban.
The Albanian prime minister said that his country stands alongside the United States “not only when we need them for our problems … but even when they need us, any time.”
LONDON — British media are reporting that the U.K.’s ambassador to Afghanistan is to be airlifted out of the country by Monday evening amid fears that the Taliban could seize the airport imminently.
The Foreign Office had intended for Laurie Bristow and a small team of officials to remain at the airport with other international diplomats. But the Sunday Telegraph reported that their departure had been brought forward. The Foreign Office declined comment.
Last week the defense ministry said 600 British troops were being deployed to Kabul to help evacuate some 3,000 British nationals and about 2,000 Afghans who worked with British forces.
A Royal Air Force Hercules aircraft was reported to have flown out of the airport on Saturday carrying diplomats and civilians.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace defended Britain’s move to pull troops out of the country. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said “we have not betrayed Afghanistan.”
He wrote that the U.K. could not “go it alone” after the U.S. announced its plans to withdraw. “It would be arrogant to think we could solve Afghanistan unilaterally,” he said.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has closed the Torkham border point with Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the Afghan border facility, the interior minister said Sunday.
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the decision to close the Torkhan border was taken due to due to an extraordinary situation on the other side. Ahmed told the local Geo television that the border was closed when Afghan police surrendered to the Taliban.
Ahmed said the Chaman border point with Afghanistan remains open.
Pakistan has already said that it cannot bear any load of new Afghan refugees in the wake of crisis in the war-torn country. Pakistan is about to complete fencing along the long, porous border, saying the step has been taken to check the militants’ movement across the border.
ISTANBUL — An Afghan official and the Taliban say the militants have seized the provincial capital of Khost.
The capture Sunday makes the capital the latest to fall to the militants since they began their advance over a week ago.
A provincial council member confirmed the capture to the AP. The official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
It leaves Afghanistan’s central government in control of just Kabul and five other provincial capitals out of the country’s 34.
— By Rahim Faiez
TREBON, Czech Republic — Czech leaders have approved a plan to evacuate Afghan staffers at the Czech embassy in Kabul.
The Czechs already had evacuated their own diplomats from the embassy and transported them to Kabul’s international airport.
Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said Afghan staffers are at risk of “death and torture” if they stay, adding, “We simply can’t allow that to happen.”
The announcement Sunday as the Taliban seized the last major city outside of Kabul held by the country’s central government, cutting off the capital to the east.
Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar said the Czechs will help those Afghans who worked with Czech troops during their deployment in NATO missions.
Metnar said his country is ready to take care of Afghan interpreters and their families. “We will relocate those who have asked, to the Czech Republic,” Metnar said.
The evacuation flights should take place in next days.