Taliban block rescue truck carrying 173 cats and dogs from airport
Taliban stop ex Royal Marine Pen Farthing’s animal rescue truck from reaching Kabul airport: Vehicle carrying 173 cats and dogs has been held ten hours despite pleas to be let through
- Charity boss Pen Farthing tried to flee Afghanistan with 94 dogs and 79 cats
- He has been blocked by guards for ten hours and warns the animals may die
- Boris Johnson ‘personally intervened’ to secure the pets’ release from Kabul
Published: 07:35, 26 August 2021 | Updated: 09:48, 26 August 2021
Taliban militants have blocked a former Royal Marine’s convoy carrying 173 cats and dogs from entering Kabul airport to flee Afghanistan – as he warned the animals could soon die from heat exhaustion after being left for ten hours in a sweltering travel crate.
Pen Farthing, founder of animal charity Nowzad, was making a midnight dash to the airport when he and his team were rushed by 15 armed fighters, one of whom fired a gun over their heads.
The ex-commando had decided to travel to the airport after Boris Johnson personally overruled his Defence Secretary to allow the evacuation flight to go ahead following an intervention from his wife, Carrie, according to reports.
Ben Wallace had been adamant he would prioritise ‘people over pets’ for evacuation, and the suggestion the PM reversed his decision at the vocal animal rights activist’s urging sparked a huge political row last night. An MoD spokesman told Sky News the claim was a ‘lie’.
Mr Wallace has repeatedly expressed his frustration about the row, and complained yesterday about the limited resources available to the British military evacuation effort being ‘diverted’ by attempts to rescue the animals.
Taliban guards have blocked Pen Farthing’s (pictured) convoy carrying 173 cats and dogs from entering Kabul airport to flee Afghanistan
Mr Farthing appealed directly to the Taliban on Twitter in a desperate bid to secure the release of the animals
Mr Farthing, who has previously fought in Afghanistan, tried to flee the country with 25 staff and their families along with 94 dogs and 79 cats and two trucks loaded with food and supplies in case they got stuck.
But during their race across the city last night, they were stopped at a Taliban checkpoint by a group of militants.
‘About 15 guys jumped out and levelled their guns at us,’ Mr Farthing told The Sun:
‘Then one of them had an ND [a negligent discharge]. Luckily he was a s*** shot and it went over our heads.
‘I very rarely hear Afghans swear in English but I heard a few words then.’
Mr Farthing said he has been in touch with British forces but they said they are powerless to intervene.
Today he appealed directly to the Taliban on Twitter in a desperate bid to secure the release of the animals.
Addressing Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, he wrote: ‘Dear Sir; my team and my animals are stuck at airport circle.
We have a flight waiting. Can you please facilitate safe passage into the airport for our convoy?
‘We are an NGO who will come back to Afghanistan but right now I want to get everyone out safely.
‘We have been here for 10 hours after being assured that we would have safe passage. Truly would like to go home now.
Let’s prove the IEA are taking a different path.’
The Government is still scrambling to evacuate thousands of British nationals trapped at Hamid Karzai International Airport
According to Sky News, Mr Wallace expressed his frustrations about the controversy during a call with MPs on Wednesday afternoon, complaining that soldiers in Kabul had been diverted by having to deal with the Nowzad evacuation.
‘What I can tell you, and it is a bit upsetting, is that I have soldiers on the ground who have been diverted from saving those people because of inaccurate stories, inaccurate lobbying that have diverted that resource,’ he is reported to have said.
‘And that is not something I would be proud of, and I’ve been very straight and consistent throughout.’
Mr Farthing was held at the checkpoint for an hour before they were finally allowed to drive across the city to the airport.
They arrived there at 2am but they still remain behind the blockade unable to enter the transport hub.
Mr Johnson is said to have personally intervened in the row at the urging of his wife, Carrie (they are seen in Cornwall during the G7 meeting)
Staff have parked their trucks in the shade in an effort to keep the animals cool and have been spraying the crates with water.
The Government is still scrambling to evacuate thousands of British nationals trapped at Hamid Karzai International Airport – which fell under Taliban control last week.
Animal rights campaigner Dominic Dyer, a friend of Mr Farthing, told MailPlus that the u-turn on animal evacuations followed an intervention from the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson – a keen supporter of animal welfare issues.
But the claim was quickly dismissed by the Ministry of Defence, with a spokesperson reportedly telling Sky News that they were a ‘lie’.
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