Spain ends Kabul airlifts after flying out 2,200 people
Most of the people evacuated were Afghans
Spain announced the end of its Kabul evacuations on Friday after a nine-day operation that saw more than 2,200 people flown out of the strife-torn country following the Taliban takeover.
"In total, we have managed to evacuate 2,206 people," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, indicating the number was almost three times higher than expected and hailing the work involved in a mission of "extraordinary complexity".
"Mission accomplished," he said while insisting Spain was "not going to abandon the Afghan people".
He said most of the people evacuated were Afghans, including 1,671 - and their families --who worked for Spain.
Some 333 worked for the European Union, 50 who worked for NATO as well as 21 Portuguese or Afghans working for Portugal. He said another 131 were evacuated on behalf of the United States.
"We stayed in Kabul until the last second while the security of the operation was guaranteed, but we remain committed to... seeking ways to continue evacuating the maximum number of people who worked with Spain and the international community."
Sanchez said Spain did not have "an exact number" of Afghan collaborators who were left behind but was working on "a way to continue getting them out".
On Thursday evening, following twin suicide bombings outside Kabul airport, Sanchez had pledged to evacuate "as many people as possible".
Hours later, his government announced the end of its airlift.
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