London family who went to Afghanistan family wedding tell of terrifying escape from Taliban

·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
Sabrallah Zahir and his family were ieft stranded in Kabul as the city was captured by the Taliban. (Reach)
Sabrallah Zahir and his family were left stranded in Kabul as the Afghan capital was captured by the Taliban. (Reach)

A family from west London have spoken of the terrifying ordeal they endured when trying to fly home from Afghanistan after visiting for a wedding.

Sabrallah Zahiri flew to Afghanistan with his family from Heathrow Airport on 19 July to attend a family ceremony and was due to return to Hounslow on 16 August.

However, the family of 12 – including two children aged two and eight – were left stranded in the capital as the city was captured by the Taliban.

During his time in Kabul, Zahiri said, the Taliban put a gun to his head before taking his car, and he also claimed his cousin was shot dead by the militant group.

The Taliban also repeatedly visited his uncle's home, where the family were staying at the time of the Taliban takeover, and questioned why he was housing British nationals, Zahiri claimed.

Sabrallah Zahiri sai the Taliban put a gun to his head before taking his car, and claimed his cousin was shot dead by the terrorist group. (Reach)
Sabrallah Zahiri said the Taliban put a gun to his head before taking his car, and claimed his cousin was shot dead by the militant group. (Reach)

He said: "The [Taliban] kept coming to [my uncle's] house. They said 'Why do you let people from the UK to live in your house?' He said 'they’re my nephew, my brothers'.

"The Taliban said 'we don’t bother, we don’t care’."

Watch: Afghanistan evacuation at 'max effort' as deadline looms

Zahiri said he attempted to contact the British consulate twice a day and desperately pleaded for help to get out of the country, but was reportedly told stay at home.

Eventually Zahiri and his family were told to go to Kabul airport on 19 August but were unable to board a plane as “there were over 100,000 people in the airport”.

In a previous incident at the airport earlier in the week, Zahiri said, the Taliban put a gun on his brother’s chest.

Zahiri also claimed his cousin, who was an Afghan national, was killed by the Taliban at the airport for working with American soldiers.

He said: “At the airport, one of my relatives, [the Taliban] killed him... The [Taliban] said: ‘Why are you going back to the USA?’ They killed him.”

Zahiri and his family returned to Kabul airport on 20 August, where they were able to board a British military plane the next day along with roughly 300 other people.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 24: People who want to flee the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 24, 2021. (Photo by Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People who want to flee Afghanistan continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. (Getty)

He said he “risked his life” returning to the airport on Friday but felt “safe” with the British military.

The family then arrived in Dubai on 22 August before catching a connecting flight to the UK.

They have now been relocated to a quarantine hotel near Gatwick airport for 10 days due to Afghanistan being on the government’s red list.

Zahiri said his relatives in Afghanistan are now living in fear.

In this picture taken in the late hours on August 22, 2021 Afghans wait outside the foreign military-controlled part of the airport in Kabul, hoping to flee the country following the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)
Afghans wait outside the foreign military-controlled part of the airport in Kabul, hoping to flee the country following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. (Getty)

He added: “They were all shocked and said, as soon as possible, they’re going to run away from Afghanistan.

“To be honest with you nobody wants to live back home, no one at all. Lots of people say they don’t want to live any more, they will be happy to die but they don’t want to live in Afghanistan any more.”

Foreign forces facilitating evacuations appear set to leave Afghanistan in a week, with US president Joe Biden on Tuesday refusing to prolong his 31 August deadline for the withdrawal of his troops.

Other nations are likely to follow America’s lead, leaving the Taliban in full control of the country.

Watch: Afghan national army officer safely evacuated from Kabul by UK armed forces

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