Friday 9/17/21
AFGHANISTAN

Thousands besiege Kabul airport in frantic attempt to flee Taliban

Loudspeaker announcements at the northern entrance said the airport gate would now be closed for two days
20 August 2021, Afghanistan, Kabul: British, Turkish and US soldiers assist a child during the evacuation of civilians at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Photo: Ssgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marin/Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
British, Turkish and US soldiers assist a child during the evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport. Photo: Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marin/dpa.

Thousands of people are besieging the entrances to the airport in the Afghan capital Kabul, which is the main lifeline for Afghans and foreign citizens trying to flee the country as the Islamist Taliban take over.

Shots continued to be fired almost continuously outside the heavily armed airport compound, a witness at the scene says.

In the days since the Taliban took control of the capital and the country last Sunday, thousands of people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan from Kabul airport, the only part of the capital controlled by international troops.

Many desperate Afghans who have either worked with international troops over the past two decades or who work in areas such as human rights are fearing for their lives, with many trying to get themselves or family members inside the airport.

A report compiled for the United Nations warned that the Taliban is conducting targeted searches for supposed collaborators with the ousted government, despite assurances by the radical Islamist group that it would not carry out reprisals.

There have been repeated armed confrontations at the gates to the airport compound. The US military decides on when and how to open and close the gates, and the timing is not predictable.

Loudspeaker announcements at the northern entrance said the gate would now be closed for two days, the witness said.

From all walks of life

A second eyewitness said that people from all walks of life were outside the airport: actors, TV personalities, young people, women with newborn babies or people in wheelchairs among many others.

Images of a baby being handed to troops over the compound wall went viral on Friday. A soldier grabbed the baby by the right arm and handed it to colleagues.

US President Joe Biden has assured US citizens and Afghans who worked with the Americans that they will brought home, but there are many thousands still in the country.

Troops from many other countries, including Germany, Britain and Turkey, are carrying out simultaneous evacuation operations from the airport.

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