The last German planes left Kabul on Thursday, as Berlin officially ended its evacuation mission in Afghanistan. All German soldiers left the country unharmed, the defense minister has confirmed.
The three German military aircraft took off from Kabul airport on Thursday evening local time bound for Tashkent in neighboring Uzbekistan, German news agency DPA reported. The three flights were the last scheduled as part of the German government’s evacuation mission, and the aircraft are expected to return to the central European state on Friday.
Germany has evacuated a total of 5,200 people from 45 countries since the start of the operation on August 16, Bundeswehr Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said.
The list of those flown out includes 4,200 Afghans and 505 Germans, Zorn, the highest-ranking officer in the German Armed Forces and an adviser to the defense minister, added. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry said that a total of 5,300 people were flown out, including 530 Germans and 4,400 Afghans, half of them women.
Germany also urgently sent its A400M transport aircraft, carrying medical teams and equipment, back to Kabul as a number of deadly blasts struck close to the airport on Thursday. The plane was originally sent to the Afghan capital to respond to potential medical emergencies among the evacuees, and offered assistance to the US troops on the ground.
The medical emergency aircraft also took the last two remaining German soldiers, who were left at the airport in the chaos that followed the blasts.
Later on Thursday, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer confirmed that “all German soldiers have been flown out of Kabul” and were “unharmed.” The attacks also made it clear that the security concerns were justified and that the evacuation flights cannot continue, she added, according to the German n-tv broadcaster.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is reportedly expected to travel to Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the coming days to discuss the situation in Afghanistan
“The end of the military airlift [operation] does not mean the end of our comprehensive efforts,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that “talks are being held about the continued civilian operation of Kabul Airport, through which further evacuations…could be possible.”
German embassies in the countries bordering Afghanistan
were also instructed to “quickly and easily issue entry documents” to those Afghans who had worked with German forces on the ground, or who are at a particular risk and have received approval to enter Germany, the ministry said.