Germany Warns of 'Increase' in Islamic State Suicide Bombers Entering Kabul

Germany's top military commander told reporters Tuesday that the military is concerned about an apparent threat of attacks by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported.

General Eberhard Zorn said that "the threat has further increased," adding that American and German intelligence indicates an increase of ISIS suicide bombers sneaking into the city.

"That's increasing and leads to heightened precautions," Zorn added.

Germany's defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, warned that the Taliban's August 31 deadline for foreign troops to fully withdraw should be taken "seriously."

"I think one needs to take very, very seriously the announcement that they won't agree to a further delay," she said, adding that the Taliban could be using the deadline as a bargaining chip in negotiations with foreign officials.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Chaman, Pakistan Refugees
Afghan families wait for transport after entering Pakistan through a border crossing point in Chaman, Pakistan, on August 24, 2021. Jafar Khan/AP Photo

Dutch military to house evacuees

The Dutch military is halting shooting exercises at one of its firing ranges because the facility will be used to house Afghans evacuated from Kabul.

The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that shooting training at the Harskamp military base is suspended until further notice.

The first Afghan evacuees are expected to arrive later Tuesday in Harskamp, a large military base in the forests of the Veluwe region of the central Netherlands.

Military exercises are continuing near the first Dutch army base opened to house Afghan evacuees, in a northern village, but shooting has been suspended there, too.

The military says that evacuees will hear almost nothing of the exercises at the base in the northern village of Zoutcamp.

The Defense Ministry has opened three barracks to evacuees. So far, around 1,000 people have been brought to two accommodation centers, which are already nearly full.

The Harskamp base will house a further 800 Afghans.

Turkey has evacuated 1,404 people

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey has so far evacuated 1,404 people from Afghanistan — 1,061 of them Turkish nationals and 343 nationals of "various countries."

"Because of our (troops') presence at the airport, many countries, international organizations or NGOs have asked our help in evacuating their personnel," Cavusoglu told reporters Tuesday. "We have been providing assistance to them together with the United States and Britain."

Cavusoglu said that there were some 4,500 Turkish nationals in Afghanistan but only around 200 are still waiting to be evacuated.

"We have contacted each one of them....An important number of them said they did not want to return," Cavusoglu said, explaining that they included people who had businesses or jobs in Afghanistan or were married to Afghans.

"We of course, respect their decision but we have also made the necessary suggestions and warnings," he said.

Don't focus blame on U.S.

Italy's foreign minister is warning allies against concentrating on blaming the U.S. administration for the chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told Parliament's foreign affairs and defense commissions on Tuesday that while such finger-pointing "is coming into fashion" in European public opinion, it risks weakening the traditionally solid trans-Atlantic alliance. Those engaged in assigning blame should "be aware that if this alliance ends, there is no other" to replace it, Di Maio said.

"After the Americans leave Kabul airport—the date hypothesized for now is at the end of the month—it won't be in any case possible, not for us, nor for any country in the Alliance, to maintain any kind of presence" in Afghanistan, Di Maio said.

Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini told lawmakers that so far 2,659 Afghan citizens, about a third of them children, have been evacuated by Italy. Another 1,000 people were waiting inside the airport for flights to Italy.

Italy is using its current leadership of the G-20 grouping to involve world powers, especially China and Russia, to try to build consensus on strategy toward Afghanistan.

The rapidly unfolding crisis in Afghanistan has forced Italy to suspend aid cooperation agreements. But "we don't intend to interrupt humanitarian aid" where conditions permit, Di Maio said. He said assistance would be funneled through the International Red Cross and U.N. agencies, especially for women and other vulnerable people.

At the request of the United States, Italy is also allowing temporary transit of evacuees on U.S. flights through military bases in Sicily and northern Italy.

Russia opposes U.S. presence

Russia's foreign minister says he opposes the placement of any U.S. military forces in countries neighboring Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the country and its subsequent takeover by the Taliban.

Speaking at a press conference in Hungary's capital, Budapest, Sergei Lavrov said the presence of U.S. soldiers in Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan would create instability in the region, and make those countries a "target" for potential attacks.

"This is not the right way to preserve stability in those countries," Lavrov said.

Finland evacuations include EU delegations

Finland says it has now evacuated over 200 people from Afghanistan, including permanent staff and locally hired employees working for the Nordic country's embassy in Kabul with their families.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto tweeted on Tuesday that Finland's most recent evacuation on Monday included also 40 persons from the European Union delegations in Afghanistan.

He said that the majority of those evacuated from Afghanistan were women and children, and that the evacuation effort was continuing this week.

On Friday, Finland sent a few dozen of its special unit soldiers to Afghanistan to help safeguard evacuations at the airport in Kabul.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto urged the international community in a speech in Helsinki on Tuesday to take notice of "the acute human distress" unfolding in Afghanistan. He expressed concerns over the situation of women and girls and "other groups in a vulnerable position" in the country, including locally hired employees of foreign embassies.

"We have a specific responsibility for the security of the locally hired people who have enabled our (Finland's) own operations in Afghanistan over the past years," the Finnish head of state said.

South Korea sends aircraft for evacuations

South Korea says it has sent three military aircraft to Afghanistan and an unspecified nearby country to evacuate Afghans who worked for its embassy in Kabul and other South Korean-run facilities.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday did not confirm how many people will be evacuated. On Sunday, Song Young-gil, lawmaker and leader of South Korea's ruling Democratic Party, said the Seoul government should evacuate some 400 Afghans who were involved in South Korean rebuilding projects in Afghanistan.

Apart from embassy staff and their families, the South Korean planes will pick up Afghans who worked for a South Korean-run hospital at the U.S. military's Bagram Airfield before the facility closed in 2015 and a South Korean-run job training center, the ministry said.

German officer rips evacuation efforts

A German army officer trying to help Afghans at risk from the Taliban to flee their country has launched a blistering attack on Germany's evacuation efforts.

Captain Marcus Grotian told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday that he was "overwhelmed by disbelief at the way Germany's governing parties and politicians disregarded warnings" about the Taliban advance and accused Chancellor Angela Merkel's office of failing to step in when needed.

Grotian, who heads a network of volunteers trying to help locals who worked for German institutions in Afghanistan, said some 6,000 Afghans are still waiting to be evacuated and many likely won't make it.

"There will be many, too many human tragedies to come," he said. "That's absolutely clear."

Grotian accused German officials of creating a dysfunctional bureaucracy that is making incomprehensible decisions about who can board evacuation flights and who can't.

"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a person who was never on a list is let through, sometimes a person who has been on our lists or those of the military command for six weeks is still turned away," he said.

Grotian recounted one incident earlier Tuesday in which an Afghan woman who had worked for Germany's foreign development agency four years ago was barred from entering Kabul airport.

He said the mixed messages being sent to Afghans by German bureaucrats would likely mean some will miss other opportunities to leave the country because they are still waiting for Germany to evacuate them.

"Everyone who has worked for Germans must now be let through, because there won't be many more chances," said Grotian. "They've been rejected three times, some of them four. There may not be a fifth when the planes don't fly anymore."

Evacuee detained for suspected Taliban links

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said an Afghan evacuated from Kabul to Paris and suspected of links to the Taliban was detained by French police on Tuesday.

The man is one of five Afghans placed under strict surveillance by France's intelligence agency for possible links to the Taliban. The five men were required to stay in a hotel in the Paris region for a quarantine, as are all evacuees who arrive in France without having been fully vaccinated.

"One left the place where he was asked to stay" and police arrested him, Darmanin said on news broadcaster France Info.

Of the other four men, one "was obviously linked to the Taliban," Darmanin said. "But he helped the French army a lot, the French (nationals), your fellow journalists, more than a hundred Afghans who had visas and could not get out from the embassy." The French Embassy has served as a shelter for hundreds of people before they were transferred to the Kabul airport, where the French ambassador and a reduced staff now work.

The man admitted to belonging to the Taliban and to bearing arms at a blockade in Kabul that was under his responsibility.

Darmanin said the security checks were done in Abu Dhabi, where the French have transferred evacuees before the onward journey to Paris.

"There was no breach," he said.

Darmanin said France has evacuated over 1,000 Afghans from Kabul over the past week, including a large majority of Afghans who worked with the French government or French groups in the country.

Deported Afghan arrested in Denmark

A second person who had been deported from Denmark to Afghanistan, and who returned to the Scandinavian country on an evacuation plane from Kabul, has been arrested.

Danish police said Tuesday on Twitter that the man faces preliminary charges of violating an entry ban. Preliminary charges are one step short of formal charges.

On Sunday, a 23-year-old man was recognized by police for being member of an outlawed criminal gang when he tried to sneak back into Denmark. He too arrived on an evacuation plane from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country.

Because of the situation in Afghanistan, Denmark is no longer deporting people to that country.

Denmark's Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said another 50 persons have been evacuated out of Kabul. A Danish Hercules C-130 flew them out Tuesday, with Bramsen saying that so far a total of about 850 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

In neighboring Sweden, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Monday evening that 55 people—mainly Swedish Embassy employees and their families—had been flown out of Kabul, bringing the total number of evacuees to 225.

Poland continues evacuation efforts

Officials say that Poland has evacuated over 750 people from Afghanistan and a few dozen more are waiting at the Kabul airport for the air transport to Poland, but time is running out on the possibility of evacuation.

A deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, said on Tuesday that majority of those who cooperated with Poland's diplomatic mission have been evacuated and the waiting list is getting shorter. However, there are still a number of families and mothers with children whom the authorities want to bring to Poland for security reasons, Przydacz said.

But the logistics and the conditions of the evacuation are challenging, he added.

Top government official, Michal Dworczyk, tweeted an appeal for help in locating the family of 13-year-old Fawad who got separated from his relatives during an "attempted evacuation" from Kabul. It was not immediately clear if Fawad has been brought to Poland. Fawad's photo was posted on Dworczyk's Twitter account.

Taliban Press Conference
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid looks on during a press conference in Kabul on August 24, 2021, after the Taliban's stunning takeover of Afghanistan. HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP/Getty Images