As thousands of Afghans scrambled to catch an evacuation flight following the Taliban’s takeover of their country, chaotic scenes at Kabul’s international airport turned deadly Monday.
According to a US official, US troops shot and killed two armed men at the airport. According to the official, the armed men approached US troops stationed in Afghanistan to provide security and assist Americans and other individuals in safely exiting the country.
According to the official, at least three Afghans who were clinging to the side of an Air Force jet were run over and killed. People were seen holding on to a military plane as it flew along the tarmac, and two objects appeared to fall off while the plane was hundreds of feet in the air.
Witnesses reported seeing three bloodied bodies, one of which was a woman, lying on the ground just outside the passenger terminal building.
After the Afghan government collapsed on Sunday, the US military took over airport security to facilitate a massive airlift of foreign diplomats and citizens.
Thousands of desperate Afghans, many of whom had previously worked for US forces, flocked to the airport as the victorious Taliban scoured Kabul for those who had collaborated with the West. There were rumors that flights were accepting passengers who did not have passports or tickets.
According to people trapped in the airport, American troops shot in the air repeatedly throughout the night to disperse the crowds. Hundreds of Afghan civilians were seen near the runway and around parked planes on Monday, with some hanging from boarding ramps as they scrambled to board planes, impeding evacuation efforts.
According to passengers, the US military used two military helicopters flying low overhead to disperse the crowds, using smoke grenades and firing shots into the air. According to US military officials, there were approximately 6,000 American troops at the Kabul airport or on their way there on Sunday. More remained on standby in Kuwait.
According to US officials, American troops at the airport reserve the right to self-defense, and if Taliban or other individuals interfere with airport operations, US forces will use lethal force if necessary.
Passengers reported that shops inside the terminal had been looted, adding to the panic.
According to passengers, some Taliban fighters entered the airport and frequently shot in the air, terrifying them. After President Ashraf Ghani left the country on Sunday, the Taliban entered Kabul, effectively ending a 20-year effort by the US and other Western nations to remake Afghanistan into a modern democracy, only to see its armed forces collapse as American forces withdrew.
The Taliban said again on Monday that they had issued orders to fighters, known as mujahedeen, or holy warriors, not to enter homes without the permission of the owners.
Separately, another Taliban spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, told Al Jazeera that the shape of Afghanistan’s new government would be revealed soon. He also stated that the group desires peaceful relations with other nations. Nongovernmental organizations in Kabul and elsewhere reported that Taliban fighters visited their offices and told them to register their activities with the group.
European nations, including France and Germany, said they were preparing to evacuate their citizens, as well as some local Afghan staff, while Russia, Turkey, and China said they would keep their embassies open.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday that 600 British paratroopers and logisticians had arrived in Kabul to assist with the evacuation.
Around 300 British passport holders were evacuated. He told the BBC that another 700 people, including Afghan nationals, would be evacuated in the next 24 to 36 hours, with another 800 following in a similar time frame. He claimed that the UK had the capacity to take out more than 1,000 people per day, but that “processing speed” was limiting the number of people who could be flown out.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued a notice to air carriers stating that airspace had been released to the military and advising transit flights to reroute due to the lack of air-traffic control.
Long-haul carriers frequently use the country’s airspace. There were no commercial flights over Afghanistan on Monday, according to flight tracking data.