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Australia ends Afghanistan evacuation mission after Kabul suicide blasts

The federal government has confirmed all Australian troops have withdrawn from Kabul and evacuation flights have been terminated in the wake of the deadly suicide attack on the city’s airport.

Two suicide bombers attacked crowds gathered outside Kabul airport hoping to flee Taliban-controlled Afghanistan overnight. Afghan and Pentagon officials say 60 Afghan civilians and 12 US soldiers have died.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton confirmed on Friday morning Australia’s evacuation operation had ended after a final airlift was completed on Thursday.

All Australian personnel involved in the operation are safe, he said.

“I’m very pleased and relieved that our soldiers have departed from Kabul, and we took the decision to lift the last of our people yesterday, and they are safely in the United Arab Emirates, and I’m very pleased for that,” he told the Nine Network.

“I just make that point and if we were to continue in that situation, we would have had casualties now as well. So, in that situation, we can’t continue to put our ADF personnel and their lives at risk.”

Mr Dutton said it was a “horrible” day and he grieved at the loss of life, and in particular for Australia, the loss of the American lives.

“These are people that have helped literally thousands of Australian citizens and visa holders, permanent residents through those gates,” he said.

“Our troops will be devastated by the loss of their comrades (from the United States).”

Australians and Afghans with visas that remain in Afghanistan have been told to keep away from Kabul airport.

SBS News has sought comment from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about whether any Australians or Australian visa holders have been affected by the attack.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the attack in a tweet on Friday morning.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne also issued a condemnation.

More than 100 former staff of Australia’s Kabul embassy who had been waiting for an evacuation flight with their families at the same gate hours before the explosion occurred are safe, after leaving the area on advice from Australian military lawyers.

SBS News has confirmed all 147 of them are accounted for by their Australia-based legal team.

A former staff member who worked with Australia in Kabul as a chef said he had been waiting near the airport gate all day, but left the area an hour before the initial blast.

“Thank God, I am ok,” he told SBS News.