Was UK translator and family lost in the Kabul airport blast? An hour earlier, Hussain told the Mail they were in the very area targeted. Now they cannot be traced
- WARNING: Graphic images
- Twin blasts hit Kabul’s airport and a nearby hotel on Thursday, killing dozens
- A former British military interpreter spoke to Mail just hours before but now cannot be reached, sparking fears he and his family may have been killed
- Two other former UK military translators told the Mail they had narrow escapes after waiting hours at the airport gates
- ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombings
A former British military interpreter and his family are feared to be among the casualties of the Islamic State atrocity at Kabul airport yesterday.
Hussain, his wife, three children and three children of a relative were trapped with thousands of Afghans desperate for a mercy flight in an area between the Baron Hotel rendezvous point and the Abbey Gate at the time of the blast.
The 48-year-old had told the Mail an hour before the double explosions – believed to be set off by terrorists wearing suicide vests first at the gate then near the hotel – that he had spent two days in the area trying to pass through British-manned checkpoints.
He said he was aware of the bomb threat because UK forces had used loudspeakers to tell people to go home.
But, with time running out, he worried that he would not be able to reach the front of the queue again. ‘I know it is a risk but I have little choice if I am to escape,’ said Hussain, who had worked with the UK military in Helmand.
‘I know I am caught near the wrong gate but if I leave now I may not be able to make it through the Taliban checkpoints as they are turning people back.’
A wounded man is carried away from the scene of one of Thursday’s explosions in a wheelbarrow
A wounded man leaves the scene of one of the explosions on Thursday, which killed dozens of people
Hussain, a member of the minority Hazara community, had been stopped last week at a Taliban checkpoint when heading to the airport, a gun pressed to his chest and warned not to return.
He and his family had permission to travel and had been called to the airport but he said yesterday that no one would help him through. Last night his telephone was ringing out and – unusually – he wasn’t replying to messages.
A friend in the house where he had been hiding said they had been checking the hospitals where victims of the attacks had been taken. Two other former UK military translators said they had narrow escapes after waiting hours at the airport gates.
Aziz, his wife and four children had spent two nights in the crowds but less than 30 minutes before the blast returned home after reading a warning from British officials to leave. ‘We were lucky’, he said. ‘We heard the massive explosion, felt the power and then the debris began to land.
‘When it cleared we looked and it was close to where we had been.
‘People were a mess, there must have been hundreds, maybe thousands of people, there was crying and shouting.
Warnings had been issued that the huge crowds gathering near the airport to seek safety could become a target for an attack by militants
‘There were bodies and clothes had too much blood on. It was like a battlefield, but not like Helmand where you knew the enemy.’
He added: ‘People close to the bomber had been blown apart, it was horrible. Horrible… We are shocked, worried.’
Aziz added: ‘My brother is a surgeon and works at the emergency hospital. He said it was awful with many people killed and injured.
‘Everyone was packed together so it was a very easy target with no escape.’ Former UK special forces translator Obad, 34, was 800 yards from the first explosion and said his instinct was to fall to the ground to protect his four children.
‘It was a very powerful explosion, there was silence and then cries,’ he said. ‘We could see many injured and some were dead. Bodies had been torn and there were many covered in blood.
‘The people were rushing the injured to hospital past us, they looked in a mess. We were lucky not to be caught in it because if you were near when the explosion happened there was no chance of escape.’ He added: ‘We had been called to the airport and came from Kandahar.
‘We are just waiting to hear from the British what to do. I hope the flight will still be flying but this could be the end.’
The Daily Mail has been fighting for the safe relocation of Afghan translators since 2015 through the award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign.
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