/Gunman targets ex-Marine Pen Farthings van of rescue animals at Kabul airport

Gunman targets ex-Marine Pen Farthings van of rescue animals at Kabul airport

Paul Farthing, known as Pen, is aiming to get 200 dogs and cats out of Afghanistan alongside his animal shelter staff. He said his vehicle was targeted, but his staff and animals are safe at the moment

Pen Farthing
Pen Farthing said his vehicle was targeted by a gunman (

Image: PA)

A former Royal Marine who was near the explosion close to Kabul airport today has said his vehicle, full of rescue animals, was targeted by a gunman amid the chaos.

Paul Farthing, known as Pen, is aiming to get 200 dogs and cats out of Afghanistan alongside his animal shelter staff.

Mr Farthing, who founded the Nowzad shelter in Kabul after serving in the country in 2007, headed to Kabul airport overnight in a bid to put his animals, plus around 70 Afghan staff, on a crowdfunded charter flight.

But the convoy was blocked from entering by the Taliban and Mr Farthing warned the situation was “getting really desperate”, saying they had “hours now before animals start dying”.

The former Royal Marine is aiming to get 200 dogs and cats out of Afghanistan

This afternoon, Mr Farthing was outside the airport in a car, with the animals crammed in two trucks when two explosions took place.

A Taliban official said at least 13 people were killed, including children, and many Taliban guards were wounded.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said one blast occurred near the airport’s Abbey Gate and the other close to the nearby Baron Hotel.

“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties,” Mr Kirby wrote on Twitter.

Two US officials said at least one of the explosions appeared to be from a suicide bombing.

Mr Farthing said: “We’re fine but everything is chaos here at the moment.

Two explosions took place near Kabul airport today
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Image:

AKHTER GULFAM/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

“All of a sudden we heard gunshots and our vehicle was targeted, had our driver not turned around he would have been shot in the head by a man with an AK-47.

“We’ve been in the airport, and back out of the airport; the whole thing’s a mess.

“There’s not much more I can say at the moment, I need to make sure the animals and everyone is safe.”

The incident happened in the afternoon
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Image:

Twitter)

Since the collapse of the Afghan government, Mr Farthing and his supporters have campaigned to have his staff and their families as well as 140 dogs and 60 cats evacuated from the country in a plan he has dubbed Operation Ark.

This morning, Mr Farthing issued a plea on Twitter to ensure his “safe passage” into Kabul airport.

Addressing the Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, Mr Farthing said: “Dear Sir; my team & 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.”

He added: “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.”

Original Source