Ex-Royal Marine’s vehicle ‘targeted’ after ‘gunshots’ in Kabul just hours before escape

Pen Farthing's friend likens evacuation plan to 'Dunkirk spirit'

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A number of people are feared to have been killed in at least two explosions outside the airport following warnings that a terror attack could be launched in the final phase of the evacuation effort. Paul Farthing, known as Pen – who founded the Nowzad shelter in Kabul, is aiming to get 200 dogs and cats out of the country alongside his animal shelter staff.

Mr Farthing, who was outside the airport in a car when the incident occurred, told the PA news agency: “We’re fine but everything is chaos here at the moment.

“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.”

Since the collapse of the Afghan government, Mr Farthing and his supporters have campaigned to have his staff and their families as well as 140 dogs and 60 cats evacuated from the country in a plan he has dubbed Operation Ark.

On Thursday morning, he had issued a plea on Twitter to ensure his “safe passage” into Kabul airport.

Addressing the Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, Mr Farthing said: “Dear Sir; my team & my animals are stuck at airport circle. We have a flight waiting.

“Can you please facilitate safe passage into the airport for our convoy?

“We are an NGO who will come back to Afghanistan but right now I want to get everyone out safely.”

He added: “We have been here for 10 hours after being assured that we would have safe passage.

“Truly would like to go home now. Let’s prove the IEA are taking a different path.”

Mr Farthing’s comments come amid a burgeoning row betwee his supporters and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace cented on efforts to evacuate the animals.

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Ben Wallace rejected claims he had blocked a flight to take the animals, saying it was a “total myth”.

It came as Boris Johnson denied he had had any influence on the rescue attempts.

In a series of angry tweets, Mr Wallace lashed out at “bullying, falsehoods and threatening behaviour” towards Ministry of Defence staff.

He said: “Let’s get some facts out there: One. No one, at any stage has blocked a flight.

“This is a total myth and is being peddled around as if that is why the pet evacuation hasn’t taken place.

“Two. I never said I would not facilitate. I said no one would get to queue jump.

“Three. The issue, as those desperate people waiting outside the gates know too well, has always been getting processed through the entrances.

“It can take over 24 hours. There is no point turning up with a plane until the passengers / pets are airside.

“Four. As people were processed ARAP (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy), LOTR (Leave outside the Immigration Rules) etc they were called forward.

“Once processed and on the airfield they are marshalled on to a plane. As I have said we will facilitate at all stages but the priority will be people not pets.”

 

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