Taliban blame US for Kabul airport chaos as Afghans race to flee

  • On Sunday, the British defence ministry said at least seven Afghan civilians died at the airport, with a Sky News reporter adding that people were being “crushed” and “dehydrated.”
The US has set August 31 as the deadline to complete the evacuation, even as up to 15,000 US nationals and between 50,000 and 60,000 Afghan allies still remain in Afghanistan.
The US has set August 31 as the deadline to complete the evacuation, even as up to 15,000 US nationals and between 50,000 and 60,000 Afghan allies still remain in Afghanistan.
Updated on Aug 22, 2021 06:15 PM IST
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Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Ever since Kabul fell into the hands of Islamist extremist group Taliban, the most chaotic scenes have emerged from the city’s Hamid Karzai International Airport where Afghan citizens have been making desperate bids to flee the country and the Islamist regime. Now, a senior Taliban official has put the blame of the evacuation chaos on the United States.

“America, with all its power and facilities … has failed to bring order to the airport. There is peace and calm all over the country, but there is chaos only at Kabul airport,” Taliban official Amir Khan Mutaqi told AFP.

On Sunday, the British defence ministry said that at least seven Afghan citizens died in the mayhem at the airport, even as scores of civilians tried to escape Afghanistan.

A journalist, who was among a group of media workers and academics fortunate enough to reach the Kabul airport for a flight, said that people were begging to be flown out of the country.

“They were showing us their passports and shouting ‘take us with you … please take us with you’,” the journalist was quoted as saying by AFP.

The media worker added that the Taliban fighter ahead of them shot in the air to make the crowd disperse.

Britain’s Sky News reporter Stuart Ramsay, who was at the airport on Sunday, said that people were being “crushed”, while others were “dehydrated and terrified.”

The pandemonium is a sign of worry especially because the US has set August 31 as the deadline to complete the evacuation, and there are up to 15,000 US nationals and between 50,000 and 60,000 Afghan allies still in Afghanistan, according to AFP.

Also Read | US may enlist commercial airlines to help evacuate Afghan refugees

US President Joe Biden, who has come under severe criticism for his decision to end America’s longest war and withdraw the troops from Afghanistan, termed the evacuation to be “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history.” “I cannot promise what the final outcome will be,” he added in a televised address from the White House on Friday.

Also Read | Kabul evacuation among ‘most difficult’ in history’: Biden

The Pentagon on Saturday said that as many as 17,000 people, including 2,500 Americans have so far been evacuated from Afghanistan. According to Reuters, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said, “We’re fighting against both time and space … And we’re trying to do this as quickly and safely as possible.”

The US, meanwhile, has advised its citizens still in Afghanistan to keep from travelling to the Kabul airport due to potential security threats outside the gates of the venue. Furthermore, Biden has also warned the Taliban with “swift and forceful response” if they attack the US forces or cause disruption of the country’s operations at the Hamid Karzai airport.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022