Crush at Kabul airport kills 7 as Afghans attempt to flee

2021-08-22 16:59:00

At the very least seven Afghans died in a panicked crush of individuals making an attempt to enter Kabul’s worldwide airport, the British navy stated Sunday, as 1000’s had been nonetheless making an attempt to flee the nation in a chaotic exodus every week after the Taliban takeover.

The Taliban moved to confront the primary stirrings of armed resistance since capturing almost all of Afghanistan in a matter of days earlier this month. Anti-Taliban fighters claimed to have seized three mountainous districts, and a outstanding militia commander in the one province not but beneath Taliban management pledged to struggle again if attacked.

The British navy on Sunday acknowledged at the least seven deaths on the airport. Others could have been trampled, suffocated or suffered coronary heart assaults as Taliban fighters fired into the air to attempt to drive again the crowds. Troopers coated a number of corpses in white clothes. Different troops stood on concrete limitations, making an attempt to calm the group.

Kabul’s airport, now one of many solely routes in a foreign country, has seen days of chaos because the Taliban entered the capital on Aug. 15. Hundreds poured onto the tarmac final week, and a number of other Afghans plunged to their deaths after clinging to a U.S. navy cargo airplane because it took off, among the seven killed on Aug. 16.

The Taliban have pledged amnesty to those that labored with the U.S., NATO and the toppled Afghan authorities, however many Afghans nonetheless worry revenge assaults. There have been experiences in latest days of the Taliban searching down their former enemies. It is unclear if Taliban leaders are saying one factor and doing one other, or if fighters are taking issues into their very own fingers.

Outdoors the airport on Saturday, Western troops in full fight gear tried to regulate crowds sufficiently big to be seen in satellite tv for pc photographs. They carried away some who had been sweating and pale. With temperatures reaching 34 levels Celsius (93 F), the troopers sprayed water from a hose on these gathered and gave out bottled water.

“The scenario at Kabul airport stays extraordinarily difficult and unpredictable,” a NATO official stated on situation of anonymity in step with rules. The official was not capable of affirm a exact variety of casualties.

The U.S. Embassy, which has relocated to the navy facet of the airport, has informed Americans and others to not come to the airport till they obtain exact directions.

U.S. Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan informed CNN that 3,900 individuals had been airlifted out of Kabul on U.S. navy flights previously 24 hours, up from 1,600 the day past. That is along with about 3,900 individuals airlifted on non-U.S. navy flights over the previous 24 hours. It stays far beneath the 5,000 to 9,000 that the navy says it has the capability to airlift every day.

Britain stated it had airlifted greater than 5,000 individuals, together with 1,000 within the final 14 hours.

U.S. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, requesting 18 plane from U.S. carriers to help in transporting Afghan refugees after they’re evacuated to different international locations. The voluntary program, born within the wake of the Berlin airlift, provides to the navy’s capabilities throughout crises.

President Joe Biden has vowed to carry house all Individuals from Afghanistan and to evacuate Afghans who aided the U.S. conflict effort. U.S. navy helicopters have been used to gather 169 Individuals from outdoors the airport. Tens of 1000’s of Individuals and others are nonetheless hoping to fly out.

There even have been issues a few potential assault on the airport by an area Islamic State affiliate. U.S. navy planes have been executing corkscrew landings, and different plane have fired flares upon takeoff, measures used to forestall missile assaults.

The Taliban blame the chaotic evacuation on the U.S. navy, saying there isn’t any want for Afghans to worry them, though their fighters shoot into the air and beat individuals with batons as they attempt to management the crowds outdoors the airport.

“All Afghanistan is safe, however the airport, which is managed by the Individuals, has anarchy,” Amir Khan Motaqi, a senior Taliban official, stated Sunday. The U.S. “mustn’t embarrass itself to the world and mustn’t give this mentality to our those who (the Taliban) are a type of enemy.”

Talking to an Iranian state tv channel Saturday night time in a video name, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem additionally blamed the deaths on the airport on the Individuals.

“The Individuals introduced that `we might take you to America with us,’ and other people gathered at Kabul airport,” Naeem stated. “If it was introduced proper now in any nation on this planet, would individuals not go?”

The Taliban have sought to venture a extra reasonable picture than once they final dominated the nation, from 1996 till the U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 assaults, which al-Qaida carried out whereas being sheltered by the Taliban. Throughout their earlier rule, ladies had been largely confined to their properties, tv and music had been banned, and public executions had been held — all in accordance with the Taliban’s harsh model of Islamic rule.

This time, the Taliban are holding talks with Afghan officers from earlier governments on a political transition and say they are going to restore peace and safety after a long time of conflict. Afghan officers accustomed to the talks say the Taliban have stated they won’t announce a authorities till after the Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. troop withdrawal.

However they already face stirrings of resistance.

In Baghlan province, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Kabul, fighters calling themselves the “Individuals’s Rebellion” claimed to have seized three districts within the Andarab Valley, nestled within the towering Hindu Kush mountains.

Khair Mohammad Khairkhwa, the previous provincial head of intelligence, and Abdul Ahmad Dadgar, one other chief within the rebellion, stated Taliban fighters had burned down properties and kidnapped kids. Two different officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity, made related allegations. The Taliban didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Within the close by Panjshir province — the one one but to fall beneath Taliban management — a gaggle of militia leaders and officers from the ousted authorities have pledged to defend it towards the Taliban, who circulated video displaying their fighters heading towards the area.

The province is a stronghold of the Northern Alliance fighters who joined with the U.S. to topple the Taliban in 2001, and Ahmad Massoud, the son of a well-known Northern Alliance commander assassinated days earlier than the 9/11 assaults, has appeared in movies from there.

However it seems unlikely a number of thousand guerrilla fighters will quickly succeed the place the Afghan nationwide safety forces failed regardless of 20 years of Western assist, help and coaching.

“If Taliban warlords launch an assault, they are going to after all face staunch resistance from us,” Massoud stated in an interview with the Al-Arabiya information community. However he additionally expressed openness to dialogue with the Taliban.


Akhgar reported from Istanbul and Gambrell from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Related Press writers Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem, Robert Burns in Washington, Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed.

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