The Taliban were branded a “gang of murderers and religious fanatics” by a local councillor as support was pledged to Afghan refugees by East Lothian Council.

Conservative councillor Lachlan Bruce, opposition group leader on the council, spoke of his dismay at the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan as thousands try to flee the new regime.

He told fellow councillors: “Sadly Afghanistan has been abandoned to a group of murderers and religious fanatics.”

East Lothian Provost John McMillan began the first full meeting of the council, following summer recess, with a statement on the situation.

He said: “I want to acknowledge the significant public concern regarding the humanitarian crisis unfolding before us in Afghanistan.

“This council must and will play its part in agreements being developed through Scottish and UK Government and Cosla and officers will actively engage in identifying housing we can provide.”

Depute council leader Norman Hampshire told the virtual meeting that the people of East Lothian would rise to the challenge to help those fleeing the Taliban.

He said: “East Lothian communities have welcomed many refugees before and I am sure will do so again to give these families what they need to settle.”

And Councillor Stuart Currie, SNP group leader, described images from the country as harrowing.

He said: “Watching the scenes unfold at Kabul airport, parents handing their children over razor wire, never knowing if they will see them again, demonstrates the human crisis being faced.

“We have a history in East Lothian of stepping up and will find the resources to help people in Afghanistan as much as we can.”