October 23, 2021

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US officers say 7 killed in Kabul airport evacuation chaos

By AHMAD SEIR, TAMEEM AKHGAR, KATHY GANNON and JON GAMBRELL

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Hundreds of Afghans rushed into Kabul’s major airport Monday, some so desperate to escape the Taliban that they held onto a military jet as it took off and plunged to their deaths. At minimum seven folks died in the chaos, U.S. officers claimed, as America’s longest war ended with its enemy the victor.

The crowds came while the Taliban enforced their rule around the money of 5 million persons after a lightning advance throughout the state that took just over a 7 days to dethrone the country’s Western-backed federal government. There ended up no important studies of abuses or fighting, but many inhabitants stayed property and remained fearful just after the insurgents’ takeover saw prisons emptied and armories looted.

A resolute U.S. President Joe Biden stated he stood “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw American forces and acknowledged the “gut-wrenching” photographs unfolding in Kabul. Biden claimed he confronted a preference involving honoring a beforehand negotiated withdrawal settlement or sending countless numbers more troops back to start out a 3rd ten years of war.

“After 20 yrs, I have learned the hard way that there was under no circumstances a excellent time to withdraw U.S. forces,” Biden claimed in a televised deal with from the White Residence.

The president said American troops should really not be preventing and dying in a war “that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.” He warned the Taliban not to interfere with the evacuation efforts.

Throughout Afghanistan, the Intercontinental Committee of the Purple Cross said countless numbers had been wounded in the fighting. Stability forces and politicians handed in excess of their provinces and bases without having a struggle, probably believing the two-decade Western experiment to remake Afghanistan would not survival the resurgent Taliban. The past American troops experienced prepared to withdraw at the stop of the month.

“The planet is following gatherings in Afghanistan with a weighty heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mentioned.

As the U.S. armed forces and others continued evacuation flights, Afghans swarmed over the international airport’s tarmac. Some climbed into aircraft parked on the taxiway, whilst some others dangled precariously off a jet bridge.

U.S. troops took positions to guard the energetic runway, but the group stormed previous them and their armored automobiles. Gunshots rang out. As one particular U.S. Air Drive Boeing C-17 Globemaster III attempted to consider off, a helicopter did small runs in entrance of it to try to drive individuals off the runway.

Films showed a group of Afghans hanging onto the aircraft just ahead of takeoff and quite a few slipping through the air as the plane speedily obtained altitude in excess of the metropolis.

Senior American navy officers, who spoke on affliction of anonymity to go over the ongoing procedure, instructed The Connected Push that the chaos left seven lifeless, like quite a few who fell from the flight. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said U.S. forces killed two folks he explained as carrying weapons in the melee. He said 1,000 extra U.S. troops would be deployed to protected the airfield and back up the 2,500 presently there.

All flights at the airport — both of those army and civilian — had been halted until eventually Afghan civilians could be cleared from the runway, Kirby included.

Late Monday evening, hundreds of folks remained trapped amongst American forces hoping to drive them out of the airport and Taliban forces seeking to preserve them in, witnesses mentioned. An Connected Press journalist also noticed what appeared to be an airstrike concentrate on two automobiles near the airport.

Earlier, much more than 300 persons have been evacuated aboard a Turkish Airlines flight right after Turkish troopers cleared the runway. Senol Celik, who discovered himself as a Turkish Embassy employee, mentioned individuals “threw on their own in entrance of the aircraft.”

“They wished to board the airplane. They preferred to escape Afghanistan,” he explained. “We have been afraid that the airplane would return and that we would enter that chaos. We had been unhappy for those individuals.”

Shafi Arifi, who had a ticket to travel to Uzbekistan on Sunday, was unable to board his aircraft for the reason that it was packed with folks who raced throughout the tarmac and climbed aboard, with no police or airport personnel in sight.

“There was no place for us to stand,” claimed the 24-calendar year-outdated. “Children ended up crying, women ended up shouting, young and previous adult men ended up so offended and upset, no a person could hear each and every other. There was no oxygen to breathe.”

Immediately after a girl fainted and was carried off the airplane, Arifi gave up and returned house.

Other Afghans, like Rakhmatula Kuyash, are also trying to depart by land border crossings, all of which are now managed by the Taliban.

“I’m missing and I don’t know what to do,” explained Kuyash, who crossed into Uzbekistan on Sunday immediately after leaving his small children and family in Afghanistan. “I still left every little thing behind.”

Others were being not so fortunate. Uzbekistan air defenses shot down an Afghan military aircraft that tried to enter the region with no authorization. The two pilots have been reportedly hurt and in custody.

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani, who before still left the place, confronted Russian allegations he fled Kabul with 4 autos and a helicopter complete of money. His whereabouts remained unclear.

The U.S. Embassy has been evacuated and the American flag lowered, with diplomats relocating to the airport to aid with the evacuation. Other Western nations around the world also shut their missions and had been flying out team and their citizens.

In interviews with U.S. tv networks, countrywide security adviser Jake Sullivan blamed the Afghan army for the Taliban’s rapid takeover, expressing it lacked the will to fight.

The Taliban offensive stunned American officials. Just times prior to the insurgents entered Kabul with very little if any resistance, a U.S. military evaluation predicted it could acquire months for the capital to tumble.

The rout threatened to erase 20 decades of Western efforts to remake Afghanistan that noticed tens of thousands of Afghans killed as well as much more than 3,500 U.S. and allied troops. The original invasion in 2001 drove the Taliban from electric power and scattered al-Qaida, which had planned the 9/11 assaults though becoming sheltered in Afghanistan.

Below the Taliban, which dominated in accordance with a harsh interpretation of Islamic regulation, females ended up mainly confined to their households and suspected criminals confronted amputation or public execution. The insurgents have sought to undertaking higher moderation in the latest years, but a lot of Afghans keep on being skeptical.

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations’ substantial commissioner for refugees, separately described interactions with the Taliban as “relatively favourable.”

On Monday, Nillan, a 27-year-old resident of Kabul who questioned to be discovered only by her very first identify for worry of reprisals, explained she did not see a single girl out on the streets throughout a 15-moment generate, “only men and boys.”

“It feels like time has stopped. Everything’s improved,” she told the AP.

She included, “It feels like our lifetime and our potential has finished.”

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Akhgar reported from Istanbul, Gannon from Guelph, Canada, and Gambrell from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Linked Press writers Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem, Rahim Faiez in Istanbul, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Samya Kullab in Baghdad, Daria Litvinova in Moscow, Robert Burns in Washington, James LaPorta in Boca Raton, Florida, and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.