A former British soldier trapped in Kabul ignored official advice to stay in place and escaped dramatically Taliban Disguised as a checkpoint for Afghans.
Lloyd Comer, a 60-year-old civilian contractor, told the Daily Mail that if he followed the advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and waited for them to pick him up, he would not survive.
Just a few days after the Taliban occupied Kabul and started hunting down their “enemies” door-to-door, Mr. Comer, a grandfather from Nottingham and a retired royal engineer officer, ran for freedom.
Working for an American transportation and maintenance company contracted by the Afghan National Army and the Afghan police, Mr. Comer and his colleagues worry about their safety in a compound on the east side of Kabul as the Taliban approach.
Mr. Comer put on a headscarf and blended with the locals, and set off for a 40-minute drive to the Baron Hotel near the airport
Lloyd Comer (pictured), 60, from Nottingham, decided to occupy the capital in the Taliban and began to look for their “enemies” from house to house for a few days before fleeing Kabul disguised as an Afghan
He said: “Last Sunday, I contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs online and gave them my grid coordinates.”
‘The suggestion is “Stand firmly, we will pick you up”. But we have been getting reports from the intelligence analysts used by our employers that the Taliban are getting closer.
“By Monday morning, local sources told me that I really should go to the airport, but I contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs again and they said again that I should not move.”
“If I listen to that suggestion, I seriously doubt if I am still alive talking to you today.”
Last night, four days after he returned to the UK, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called him and asked if he was still in Kabul.
Instead, with the help of colleagues, Mr. Comer put on a shalwar kameez with a turban to integrate into the lives of the locals, and then drove 40 minutes to the Baron Hotel near the airport, which he knew was used as a meeting point by the British army .
He said: “Usually, we don’t take any adventures in Kabul on anything other than armored land cruisers, but this will cause too much attention, so a colleague drove my normal Toyota sedan.
“We passed through three Taliban checkpoints and they gave us one time and waved us through, thank God. I have served in the army for 35 years and served in Iraq. I have encountered many tricky situations, but This is exactly what they face.
This retired British soldier managed to fly back to England, where his 59-year-old wife Julie (pictured with him) was waiting for him
Mr. Comer (pictured with his colleagues in Afghanistan) is working for an American transportation and maintenance company contracted by the Afghan National Army and the Afghan police
He passed through three Taliban checkpoints before he was able to meet the soldiers who drove him and other British expats through the melee outside the airport entrance
“Military training can help you try to think calmly and rationally, even when he*t is hitting the fans, but I really don’t want to worry about what happens if we are stopped.
“Working for ANA in any capacity will definitely make me a target of the Taliban, and even more so as a Westerner.”
When he arrived at the hotel, his ordeal was far from over. A large group of Afghans blocked the entrance, and Taliban gunmen stood around.
Mr. Comer said: “Two of my colleagues somehow pushed me to the entrance, and we reached the hotel safely.” “I thank them very much.”
At the Baron Hotel, Mr. Comer was able to connect with the soldiers of 2 Para, who drove him and other British expats through the melee outside the airport entrance.
“I saw the scene outside the hotel and the airport, and I sympathized with those poor people very much,” he said. “This is a lovely country and I will do everything I can to help them leave-the way this situation is handled is shocking.”
He flew to the UAE on a C-17 transport plane and managed to fly back to the UK via Spain from there, where his 59-year-old worried wife Julie was waiting for him.
As the Taliban approached, local sources advised Mr. Comer (photographed in Afghanistan) to go to the airport
“I have lived and worked in a lot of challenging environments,” he said, “so no matter where I am, she is usually relaxed, but this time she is crazy.”
Ironically, last night, after returning safely to the UK, Mr. Comer received a call on his mobile phone-this is the first time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contacted him-asking if he is still in Kabul. “It will tell you everything, really, he said.”
Now he is back home, surrounded by his family. He has three adult sons, two of whom followed him into the Royal Engineers, and nine grandsons.
But his thoughts are still related to the Afghans and other ethnic groups he left behind. He said: “My heart bleeds for those beautiful people in this crazy country.”
“Since I came back, I have been receiving emails and WhatsApp messages from people asking if I can try to help them leave, as if I were some kind of Messiah.
“I’m not too optimistic about what I can do to help them, but I’m working hard, and I won’t give up anytime soon.”
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said: “Our staff are working tirelessly to facilitate the rapid evacuation of British nationals, including this person, as well as Afghan staff and other people at risk.
“Since the start of the military operation on Saturday, August 14, the British government has helped more than 6,600 people leave Afghanistan.”