Afghanistan: Charity worker Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing ‘targeted’ in attack

A former Royal Marine who was near to the explosions close to Kabul airport has said his vehicle was targeted by a gunman.

A number of people are feared to have been killed in at least two explosions outside the airport after warnings that a terror attack could be launched.

Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, who founded the Nowzad shelter, is aiming to get 200 dogs and cats out alongside his staff.

Mr Farthing, who was outside the airport in a car, said: “We’re fine.”

But he added that “everything is chaos here at the moment”.

The charity worker, from Dovercourt, in Essex, said: “All of a sudden we heard gunshots and our vehicle was targeted. Had our driver not turned around, he would have been shot in the head by a man with an AK-47.

“We’ve been in the airport, and back out of the airport; the whole thing’s a mess.

“There’s not much more I can say at the moment, I need to make sure the animals and everyone is safe.”

The attacks on Thursday followed a Foreign Office warning.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed the twin blasts occurred in a “complex attack” outside Hamid Karzai International Airport and there were “a number of US and civilian casualties”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said at least 13 people were killed and 15 wounded.

The Ministry of Defence said there had been no UK military or government casualties reported.

Mr Farthing and his supporters have been campaigning to have his staff and their families, as well as 140 dogs and 60 cats, evacuated from Kabul since the collapse of the Afghan government.

He has dubbed the plan Operation Ark.

He made a plea on Twitter to ensure his “safe passage” into Kabul airport on Thursday.

Addressing the Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, Mr Farthing said: “Dear Sir; my team and my animals are stuck at airport circle. We have a flight waiting. Can you please facilitate safe passage into the airport for our convoy?”

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

A privately funded plane due to fly from Luton Airport to rescue them out of the country was cancelled earlier amid safety concerns.

One from a country neighbouring Afghanistan is now set to be used instead but it is said it cannot land in Kabul until Mr Farthing is granted entry into the airport.

Mr Farthing set up the Nowzad animal shelter, rescuing dogs, cats and donkeys after serving in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s.

He has said he would not leave the country without his staff or animals.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said earlier this week he was not prepared to prioritise animals ahead of people “in real danger”.

Mr Wallace has since tweeted to say: “I never said I would not facilitate. I said no-one would get to queue jump.

“As I have said, we will facilitate at all stages but the priority will be people not pets.”

Mr Wallace urged people to “let my civil servants and military get on with dealing with one of the most dangerous and challenging evacuations for a generation”.

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