image sourceNowzadimage captionFormer Royal Marine Pen Farthing set up the Nowzad animal shelter after serving in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s

An animal charity's founder has made it through Kabul airport's security, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

Paul "Pen" Farthing was trying to get his staff and rescue animals out of Afghanistan when they became caught up in Thursday's airport bomb blasts.

On Friday evening the MoD said Mr Farthing and his animals were assisted by the UK Armed Forces.

It added: "They are currently being supported while he awaits transportation."

Mr Farthing, a former Royal Marine who is originally from Dovercourt in Essex, set up the Nowzad animal shelter in Kabul, rescuing dogs, cats and donkeys, after serving in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s.

Pen Farthing and his pets were assisted through the system at Kabul airport by the UK Armed Forces. They are currently being supported while he awaits transportation.

— Ministry of Defence Press Office (@DefenceHQPress) August 27, 2021
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Since the collapse of the Afghan government, Mr Farthing and his supporters have campaigned to have his staff, their families and 140 dogs and 60 cats evacuated from the country in a plan he has named Operation Ark.

But Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has complained some of Mr Farthing's supporters had "taken up too much time of my senior commanders dealing with this issue when they should be focused on dealing with the humanitarian crisis".

Confirming the news Mr Farthing and his animals were through airport security on Friday evening via social media, the MoD said: "On the direction of the Defence Secretary, clearance for their charter flight has been sponsored by the UK Government."

media captionPen Farthing: "Twice today I've had an AK poked in my face"

Mr Farthing had earlier said he had been "turned away" while trying to leave Kabul on Thursday.

Mr Wallace said his advisors and officials had received abusive calls, which he said were "based mainly on falsehoods, that somebody, somewhere had blocked a flight – no-one blocked a flight".

He continued: "Fundamentally, as we have seen on the media, there are desperate, desperate people, and I was not prepared to push those people out of the way for that.

"When people's time is right, they were called forward, and that's the right thing to do.

"But I hope he comes back, he was advised to come back, his wife came back last Friday, so I hope he does as well."

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