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An ex-British soldier turned illegal alcohol salesman has revealed how he broke out of a jail in Kabul in his flip flops before dashing through blood-soaked streets to catch a plane home.
Ian Cameron, 56, who was arrested in March with more £30,000 worth of illegal alcohol, phoned his wife Sally for a heart-wrenching goodbye as Taliban militants seized the Presidential Palace in Afghanistan's capital city last Sunday (August 15).
The father-of-one, who served 24 years in the Royal Military Police, said he thought he was "a goner" as a Taliban firefight raged outside his jail cell at the Counter Narcotics Detention Centre in Qasaba, on the outskirts of Kabul.
But he busted out of jail in his flip-flops and dashed across the blood-soaked city to safety, helped by his fellow inmates, and is now in quarantine in Birmingham and waiting for an emotional reunion with his wife.
He told The Sun: "I've been in a few tight spots but I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, this was the first time I thought, 'I might be a goner'.
"I told her I loved her. I said I thought this might be it and, yeah, you know, we said our goodbyes.
"Everyone started shouting, 'Allahu Akbar!' We tried to run outside, but as we got to the front gate bullets were hitting the walls all around us.
"We ran back inside and the guards put us in this safe room with a heavy metal door next to the commander's office."
The shooting lasted an hour as they hid inside before a guard unbolted the door and Ian made his way outside where almost 1,000 inmates were making a dash for freedom across streets covered in blood.
Fellow prisoners told him not to speak and gave him a cotton scarf and a Covid mask to cover his face so he did not stand out as a Westerner.
Ian said: "We just ran. We were ducking and diving through the traffic trying to avoid the Taliban.
"It was like doing a ten-mile stretcher race without training. It was the first bit of exercise I had done in six months."
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After running for more than two hours to reach the airport Afghan guards at the North Gate refused to let him in as he did not have any ID.
He ran around the airport perimeter and found a road, where he flagged down a minibus before getting out when that became stuck in traffic.
He eventually flagged down a taxi drove which took him to the security barrier of the Baron Hotel, at the south-eastern edge of the airport where British troops were processing evacuees.
Ian said: "It was packed with people trying to get in. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of Afghans camped in the road trying to get out."
He hobbled down the last stretch of path to reach the hotel, where three of his old Red Cap comrades were waiting for him.
The former military man jetted out on an RAF C-17 to Dubai, where he transferred to a Titan Airways charter flight to Birmingham where he driven to a hotel where he was forced to quarantine for ten days.
He has yet to be reunited in person with Sally, who has told him: "No more adventures".
The former close protection officer set up a booze-selling business and was known as The Milkman because he delivered to customers – including Afghan ministers, provincial governors and members of the president and vicepresidents' offices.
But it collapsed in March when police stormed his house after a rival raised the alarm.
They paraded him like a drugs kingpin in front of 730 bottles of spirits, 1,160 bottles of beer and dozens of cartons of boxed wine and champagne which he had shipped in as diplomatic cargo.
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