Chaos at Kabul airport when hundreds try to leave; viral videos show people dying from american planes: The Tribune India

Chaos at Kabul airport when hundreds try to leave;  viral videos show people dying from american planes: The Tribune India

Kabul, 16 August

Thousands of civilians desperate to flee Afghanistan stormed Kabul airport on Monday after the Taliban seized the capital, prompting the U.S. military to suspend evacuations as the United States came under increasing criticism at home over its withdrawal.

Crowds gathered at the airport to flee, including some clinging to a U.S. military transport plane as it taxied onto the runway, according to footage released by a media company. Senior U.S. military officials say chaos at Kabul airport this morning left seven people dead, including some who fell from a departing U.S. military transport plane.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to publicly discuss ongoing operations.

The Taliban’s rapid conquest of Kabul follows the US withdrawal of troops after 20 years of war that cost billions of dollars.

President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw and end the United States’ longest-running war, arguing that Afghan forces must fight back against the Islamist Taliban.

But the rate at which Afghan cities fell in a matter of days and the likely impacts of free speech and women’s rights achieved in 20 years have sparked angry criticism.

“If President Biden really does not regret his decision to retire, then he is disconnected from reality when it comes to Afghanistan,” read a Twitter post from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Republican Representative Jim Banks, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, told Fox News that Biden should explain his actions to the American people.

“What was more shocking to me than the images that came out of Afghanistan is what is happening right here at home,” he said.

“We have never seen an American leader abdicate his responsibility and leadership that Joe Biden has. He is hiding. The lights are on in the White House, but no one is home.”

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Where’s Joe Biden? “

Jim Messina, White House Deputy Chief of Staff under former President Barack Obama, defended Biden’s move.

“There has been a bipartisan consensus that it was time to get out of Afghanistan,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that he supported Biden’s plan, and we’ve been there for 20 years. It’s America’s longest war, it’s it’s time to get out, ”he said on Fox.

“Why should American troops fight a civil war that Afghan troops this week refused to fight for themselves, it was time to get out.”

Airport chaos

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled on Sunday when Islamist militants entered Kabul almost unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed.

The United States and other foreign powers have rushed to evacuate diplomats and other personnel, but the United States has temporarily halted all evacuation flights to clear people from the airfield, a U.S. defense official told Reuters.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say how long the break would last.

It was not immediately clear how five out of seven people died at the airport. A US official said troops had fired into the air to deter people trying to force their way on to a military flight that took US diplomats and embassy personnel out of the city.

A witness who waited for a flight for more than 20 hours said it was unclear whether the five had been shot or killed in a rush. U.S. officials at the airport were not immediately available for comment.

Videos from the airport showed people falling to their deaths from a plane taken from Kabul airport and lifeless bodies after security forces opened fire on a crowd of Afghans trying to enter the airport.

People rushed to Kabul airport from late Sunday, wandered around the runways in the dark, hauled luggage and hurried for a spot on one of the last commercial flights to depart before U.S. forces took control of air traffic control.

On Monday, dozens of men tried to climb up a transition aisle to board a plane, while hundreds of others milled around, a video on social media showed.

On Monday, dozens of men tried to climb up a transition aisle to board a plane, while hundreds of others milled around, a video on social media showed.

Another post showed men inspecting a corpse on the roof of a person who had allegedly tried to hide in the undercarriage of a plane and fell to his death.

A third showed people climbing on the wheels of taxi US military aircraft. Another showed two bodies falling from a plane. None of these videos have been independently verified.

‘No one should be harmed’

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban, said in a Twitter message that their fighters were under strict orders not to harm anyone.

“No one, life, property and honor must be harmed, but must be protected by the mujahideen,” he said.

It took the Taliban just over a week to take control of the entire country after a lightning strike that ended in Kabul when government forces, trained for years and equipped by the United States and others at a cost of billions of dollars, melted away.

U.S. officers had long worried that corruption would undermine the decision to pay poorly paid, poorly fed and erratic frontline soldiers.

Al Jazeera released footage of what it said were Taliban leaders in the presidential palace with dozens of fighters.

Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, told Al Jazeera TV that the shape of Afghanistan’s new government would soon be clarified. He said the Taliban did not want to live in isolation and called for peaceful international relations.

The militants tried to show a more moderate face, promising to respect women’s rights and protect both foreigners and Afghans.

But many Afghans fear the Taliban will return to past harsh practices. During their rule from 1996-2001, women could not work and were punished as public stoning, whipping and hanging.

“Everyone is worried,” said a former government official who is now hiding in Kabul. “They are not targeting people yet, but they will – that’s the reality. Maybe in two or three weeks, that’s why people are struggling to get out now.”

Both the UN and the United States said last week that they had received reports that Taliban fighters were executing abandoned government soldiers.

The Pentagon on Sunday authorized an additional 1,000 troops to help evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans who worked for them, and expand its on-site security presence to nearly 6,000 troops.

A State Department spokesman said all embassy personnel, including Ambassador Ross Wilson, had been transferred to Kabul airport.

Agencies / TNS

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