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Brit ex-soldier launches daring plan to help 400 Afghans get out of the country

A former British soldier has plotted a daring escape route across Taliban-controlled Afghanistan as part of a desperate bid to get himself and 400 other people to safety.

Ben Slater, 37, who used to serve in the Royal Military Police and subsequently ran a business in Kabul, said he had been left no choice but to hatch the escape plan after he claimed the UK had failed to secure visas for him and his 50 staff, who are mostly Afghan women.

Ben has told the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence about his plan in the hope that they’ll be able to step in when they reach the border.

He told the Telegraph he’d already helped dozens of people get out of Afghanistan ahead of the fall of Kabul, but those who he couldn’t get out were now at risk of brutal retribution from the Taliban.

“It's going to be a long trip, and I am hoping on the other end that the [Foreign Office] have got our visas sorted, or at least have spoken to the foreign affairs ministry in our destination country to allow access for our vulnerable staff,” he said.

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Kabul airport is now under Taliban control after the last US military personnel left last night, and the UK government has urged those trying to flee the country to head to neighbouring countries.

But those journeys are perilous, with people trying to flee having to run the gauntlet of Taliban checkpoints without knowing if they’ll even be able to cross the border if they make it there.

Ben said he felt “massively let down” by his government.

He said: “I was given one hour's notice to send in my people’s names, the vehicles and stuff like that.

“And that seemed a little bit like that was set up for me to miss the deadline. But we did it, and then it went sort of quiet, and then there was a little bit of, ‘Oh, you can't come because you can't get through the Taliban checkpoint’.

He said he “lost his marbles” after being transferred to an automated call centre on Friday and being put “back at zero”, which prompted him to launch his own operation to save the 400 people, who include his staff.

The Foreign Office said it did not comment on specific cases, but added: “Our staff are working tirelessly to facilitate the swift evacuation of British nationals, Afghan staff and others at risk.

“The scale of the evacuation effort is huge and we have helped nearly 15,000 people leave Afghanistan since the evacuation began.

“We continue to put pressure on the Taliban to allow safe passage out of Afghanistan for those who want to leave.”

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