Gunfire at Kabul airport kills 1 amid chaotic evacuations

2021-08-23 13:11:00

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN —
A firefight simply exterior Kabul’s worldwide airport killed no less than one Afghan soldier early Monday, German officers mentioned, the newest chaos to engulf Western efforts to evacuate these fleeing the Taliban takeover of the nation.

The airport capturing got here because the Taliban despatched fighters north of the capital to get rid of pockets of armed resistance to their lightning takeover earlier this month. The Taliban mentioned they retook three districts seized by opponents the day earlier than and had surrounded Panjshir, the final province that is still out of their management.

Afghanistan’s safety forces collapsed within the face of the Taliban advance, regardless of 20 years of Western assist, coaching and help. Tens of hundreds of Afghans have sought to flee the nation since, fearing a return to the brutal rule the Taliban imposed the final time they ran Afghanistan. That has led to chaos on the airport in Kabul, the primary route in a foreign country.

Gunfire broke out close to an entrance to the airport, the place no less than seven Afghans died a day earlier in a panicked stampede of hundreds of individuals. The circumstances of the capturing, which occurred round daybreak, remained unclear.

The German army tweeted that one member of the Afghan military was killed and three others had been wounded by “unknown attackers.” An Italian humanitarian group that operates hospitals in Afghanistan mentioned it had handled six sufferers with bullet wounds from the airport.

The U.S. army and NATO didn’t instantly acknowledge the capturing. There was no remark from the Taliban.

The tragic scenes across the airport have transfixed the world. Afghans poured onto the tarmac final week and a few clung to a U.S. army transport aircraft because it took off, later plunging to their deaths. Not less than seven individuals died that day, along with the seven killed Sunday.

The Taliban blame the chaotic evacuation on the U.S. army and say there isn’t any want for any Afghans to flee. They’ve pledged to deliver peace and safety after many years of struggle and say they will not search revenge on those that labored with the U.S., NATO and the toppled Afghan authorities.

Addressing a convention of Muslim clerics, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid urged them to push again towards Western “propaganda” in regards to the Taliban and mentioned the U.S. was undermining the their rule by sending planes and providing Afghans asylum.

Regardless of their guarantees, the Taliban have violently suppressed protests and beat individuals with batons as they attempt to management the crowds exterior the airport perimeter. There have additionally been studies 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 on the bottom are taking issues into their very own arms.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer instructed the Bild newspaper that the primary impediment to getting individuals out was the crowds exterior the airport.

“We should swap way more to choosing individuals up, so to talk, and we’re doing that,” Kramp-Karrenbauer mentioned.

Requested about Taliban assurances of protected passage to the airport she mentioned: “To date, I can say that what we want is being granted; the hazard comes extra from these uncontrollable crowds of individuals.”

Because the airlift continues, the U.S. authorities requested for 18 plane from American business carriers to help in transporting Afghan refugees to their ultimate locations after their preliminary evacuation. The request fell underneath the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, which was born within the wake of the Berlin airlift and might add to the army’s capabilities throughout crises.

Since Aug. 14, the U.S. has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of greater than 30,000 individuals on army and coalition flights. Tens of hundreds of individuals — Individuals, different foreigners and Afghans who assisted within the struggle effort — are nonetheless ready to hitch the airlift, which has been slowed by safety points and U.S. forms hurdles.

U.S. President Joe Biden mentioned Sunday he wouldn’t rule out extending the evacuation past Aug. 31, the date he had set for finishing the withdrawal of U.S. forces. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to press Biden for an extension.

However Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, in an interview with Sky Information, mentioned Aug. 31 is a “purple line” and that extending the American presence would “provoke a response.”

There are additionally considerations {that a} native affiliate of the Islamic State group would possibly goal the crowds exterior the airport with suicide bombers or fireplace missiles at U.S. plane. Army planes have been executing corkscrew landings, and different plane have fired flares upon takeoff — each measures used to keep away from missile assaults.

The Taliban and IS have completely different ideologies and have fought in recent times, however one concern in regards to the Taliban’s takeover is that they may once more shelter extremist teams. The Taliban harboured al Qaeda whereas it orchestrated the 9/11 assaults, resulting in the U.S. invasion in 2001. The Taliban now say they won’t enable Afghanistan to be a base for assaults on different international locations.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban have confronted restricted armed resistance from fighters in Baghlan province, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Kabul. The anti-Taliban fighters claimed to have seized three districts within the Andarab Valley on Sunday, however the Taliban mentioned Monday that that they had cleared them out in a single day.

Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, mentioned the group’s forces have additionally surrounded close by Panjshir, the one one in every of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces but to fall to the fighters.

A number of Taliban opponents have gathered there, together with Amrullah Saleh, the vp within the toppled authorities who claims to be the performing president. Ahmad Massoud, son of the slain commander of the Northern Alliance militias that partnered with the U.S. to drive the Taliban from energy in 2001, can also be in Panjshir.

In interviews with Arab media shops over the weekend, Massoud mentioned his fighters would resist any try to take the province by pressure however had been open to dialogue with the Taliban.

Mujahid mentioned there had been no preventing in Panjshir but and that the Taliban are in search of a “peaceable resolution.”

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Faiez reported from Istanbul and Krauss from Jerusalem. Related Press writers Geir Moulson in Berlin, Jill Lawless in London and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report


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