Taliban Fire In The Air, Use Batons To Control Crowd At Kabul Airport Day After Stempede Kills Seven
As the world awaits for what the US president will do next over the botched evacuation of US citizens in Afghanistan, with a press conference scheduled for 4pm on Sunday, things at the makeshift US “embassy” at the Kabul remain deadly tense.
According to Reuters, the Taliban fired in the air and used batons to make people line up in orderly queues outside Kabul airport on Sunday, witnesses said, a day the Britain’s defense ministry said seven Afghans were killed in the crush around the airport on Saturday as thousands of people desperately tried to get a flight out. There have been other stampedes and crushing injuries in the crowds, especially as Taliban fighters fire into the air to drive away those desperate to get on any flight out of the country.
“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the British Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Sky News showed footage of soldiers standing on a wall on Saturday attempting to pull the injured out from the crush and spraying people with a hose to prevent them from getting dehydrated.
Reportage poignant de Stuart Ramsay, le doyen des correspondants de SkyNews, dans le chaos innommable de l’aéroport de Kaboul. pic.twitter.com/cWYzbJcSnm
— Pascal Riché (@pascalriche) August 22, 2021
“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the ministry said in a statement.
A NATO official said that at least 20 people have died in the past seven days in and around the airport. Some were shot and others died in stampedes, witnesses have said. “The crisis outside the Kabul airport is unfortunate. Our focus is to evacuate all foreigners as soon as we can,” the NATO official told the Guardian.
The good news is that according to Ramsay the situation outside the airport is “calmer” but “could change any time.”
Sky’s Stuart Ramsay says the situation outside Kabul’s airport is ‘calmer’, but it ‘could change anytime’.
People have been queuing for evacuation for hours and days with little water, and crowd crushing resulted in at least three deaths.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 22, 2021
Speaking to an Iranian state television channel late Saturday night in a video call, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem blamed the deaths at the airport on the Americans in what quickly became a combative interview.
“The Americans announced that we would take you to America with us and people gathered at Kabul airport,” Naeem said. “If it was announced right now in any country in the world, would people not go?”
The host on Iranian state TV quickly said: “It won’t happen in Iran.” Naeem responded: “Be sure this will happen anywhere.”
Meanwhile, the United States and other foreign countries including Britain have brought in several thousand troops to manage the evacuations of foreign citizens and vulnerable Afghans, but have stayed away from the outside areas of the airport.
“Our forces are maintaining strict distance from the outer areas of the Kabul airport to prevent any clashes with the Taliban,” the NATO official said. A Taliban official said on Sunday that “we are seeking complete clarity on foreign forces’ exit plan.”
“Managing chaos outside Kabul airport is a complex task,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
On Saturday, the United States and Germany told their citizens in Afghanistan to avoid traveling to Kabul airport – one day after Joe Biden said there was “no indication that [Americans] haven’t been able to get, in Kabul, through the airport – as desperate crowds gathered.
Army Major General William Taylor told a Pentagon briefing on Saturday that 5,800 U.S. troops remain at the airport and that the facility “remains secure”. Taylor said some gates into the airport were temporarily closed and reopened over the past day to facilitate a safe influx of evacuees. He also said that the US flag continues to wave at this makeshift “US embassy.” Taylor said that in the past week the United States has evacuated 17,000 people, including 2,500 Americans, from Kabul.
Australia ran four flights into Kabul on Saturday night, evacuating more than 300 people, including Australians, Afghan visa holders, New Zealanders, U.S. and British citizens, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
On Saturday, speaking at a rally in Alabama, Donald Trump called the botched evacuation of Afghanistan “the greatest foreign policy humiliation” in U.S. history.
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And so as thousands wait for their turn to flee Kabul, Taliban leaders are trying to hammer out a new government while the Taliban’s co- founder, Mullah Baradar, has arrived in the Afghan capital for talks with other leaders. Taliban commanders are set to meet former governors and bureaucrats in more than 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces over the next few days to ensure their safety and seek cooperation, the Taliban official said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, fighting has erupted in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province, some 120 kilometers north of Kabul. Forces organizing under the banner of the “People’s Uprising” have taken three districts around the Andarab Valley, nestled in the Hindu Kush mountains near Panjshir, the only province still not under Taliban control, where remnants of government forces and other militia groups have gathered. While details of the fighting remain unclear, it marks the first organized resistance to rise up against the Taliban since they blitzed across the country in under a week to seize the majority of the country and its capital.
On Sunday, the Taliban published video online showing fighters, including their elite special forces, preparing to head there, possibly to fight the “People’s Uprising” forces. Four officials said the Taliban had gone into the Keshnabad area of Andarab Valley to abduct the children of those opposing them.
Khair Mohammad Khairkhwa, the former head of intelligence in Balkh province, and Abdul Ahmad Dadgar, another leader in the uprising, alleged that Taliban fighters had attacked people’s homes and burned them while taking children. Two other officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also alleged the Taliban seized fighters’ children. The Taliban did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the fighting.
Sun, 08/22/2021 – 10:55