PARIS (Reuters) -France is in talks with the Taliban to allow hundreds of Afghans to be evacuated from Afghanistan, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday, as a suspected suicide bomb exploded outside Kabul airport killing at least 13 people.
The Pentagon said there were at least two explosions near the airport amid a huge and chaotic evacuation effort from Afghanistan with civilians and U.S. service members among the casualties.
Macron, on a visit to Ireland, said he could not guarantee that France would be successful in evacuating people as the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated, especially at Kabul airport.
“We are facing an extremely tense situation,” he told a joint news conference with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin, calling for caution.
The foreign ministry said that so far, more than 2,500 French nationals and Afghans had reached French soil after being evacuated from Afghanistan before an Aug. 31 deadline for foreign forces to leave.
Macron said France’s ambassador in Afghanistan would not remain in the country for security reasons and would operate from Paris, adding French special forces were at Kabul airport.
The attacks came after the United States and allies urged Afghans to leave the area because of a threat by Islamic State.
A massive airlift of foreign nationals and their families as well as some Afghans has been under way since the day before Taliban forces captured Kabul on Aug. 15, capping a swift advance across the country as U.S. and allied troops withdrew.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie)