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Australia reverses Kabul evacuation advice and urges people not to travel to airport

The Australian government has reversed its advice for citizens and visa holders trying to evacuate Afghanistan and is now urging them not to travel to Kabul airport.

The Smartraveller advice has been updated with a new and clear warning saying “do not travel to Kabul International Airport”.

Until now, the advice for Australians and Afghans with visas was to travel to the airport and wait for an evacuation flight.

Those who’ve already made the perilous journey are now being instructed to “move to a safe location”.

The federal government has been working with the United States to airlift thousands of people out of the country since the return of the Taliban.

It comes after reports of beatings by Taliban forces surfaced overnight.

In one distressing video, a man who says he is an Australian citizen is bleeding from his head, while in the background the sound of gunfire can be heard.

Afghan civilians who have Australian visas and have been trying to reach planes at the airport are now swapping information suggesting they are being blocked by the Taliban.

One of those messages, seen by SBS News, warns that only foreigners are being allowed to get through.

Meanwhile, the UK government has issued a warning on its travel website saying “there is an ongoing and high threat of a terrorist attack”.

“Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport,” it reads.

“Commercial flights are not currently operating. If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately.”

Scenes of desperation from Kabul airport have been beamed across the world since the Taliban’s return.

Video captured last week showed hundreds of people running alongside a US Air Force plane as it rolled down the runway, with some clinging to the side of it.

There have also been reports of stampedes, while advocates for former guards at Australia’s embassy in Kabul say they have been left standing in sewage water outside the airport while awaiting evacuation.