The Taliban on Sunday blamed the United States for the chaotic evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans and foreigners from the capital, a week after the hard-line Islamist group returned to power in a swift victory that stunned the world.
The United States has warned of security threats and the European Union admitted it was “impossible” to evacuate anyone at risk from the Taliban, who have sworn a softer version of their brutal 1996-2001 rule.
But terrified Afghans continue to try to flee, exacerbating a tragedy at the Kabul airport, where the United States and its allies were unable to cope with the sheer numbers of people attempting to board evacuation flights.
“America, with all its power and facilities… has failed to bring order to the airport. There is peace and tranquility all over the country, but there is only chaos at the Kabul airport,” Taliban said. official Amir Khan Mutaqi.
The British Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that seven people had died in the crowd, without giving further details.
One journalist, who was part of a group of other media workers and academics lucky enough to make it to the airport for a flight on Sunday, described desperate scenes of people surrounding their bus on the way in.
“They showed us their passports and shouted ‘take us… please take us’,” the journalist told AFP.
“The Taliban fighter in the truck in front of us had to shoot into the air to make them disappear.”
Britain’s Sky News broadcast images of at least three bodies covered in white tarpaulin outside the airport on Saturday. It was not clear how they had died.
Reporter Stuart Ramsay, who was at the airport, called the deaths “inevitable” and said people were “crushed” while others were “dehydrated and terrified”.
The footage was the latest in utter despair, following video of a baby being lifted over a wall at the airport and horror scenes of people hanging from departing planes.
The United States, which has thousands of troops trying to secure the airport, has set a deadline to complete the evacuations by August 31.
But there are up to 15,000 Americans and 50,000 to 60,000 Afghan allies to be evacuated, the Biden administration said.
Countless others fear repression under the Taliban and are also trying to flee.
US President Joe Biden has described the evacuation operations as “one of the largest and most difficult airlifts in history”.
The situation was further complicated on Saturday when the US government warned its citizens to stay away from the airport due to “security threats”.
No specific reason was given, but a White House official later said Biden had been briefed on security threats, including from the jihadist group Islamic State.
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell gave a bleak assessment of whether the airlift would succeed.
“They want to evacuate 60,000 people between now and the end of this month. It is mathematically impossible,” he told AFP.
Borrell added that “we have complained” to the Americans that their airport security was too strict and hindered attempts by Afghans working for the Europeans to get in.
On Saturday, the Pentagon said 17,000 people have been evacuated since the operation began on Aug. 14, including 2,500 Americans.
Thousands more have left on other foreign military flights.
The Taliban were publicly pleased with the US military overseeing the airlift as they focused on forming a government.
The group’s co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, flew into Kabul and planned to meet with jihadist leaders, elders and politicians in the coming days, an official told AFP.
Among them are leaders of the Haqqani Network, a US-designated terrorist organization with millions of dollars to its leadership.
The Taliban stunned the world when they invaded Kabul last week and ended two decades of war, meeting virtually no opposition from government forces trained and equipped by the US-led alliance.
However, since then there have been flashes of resistance with some ex-government forces gathering in the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul, long known as an anti-Taliban bastion.
One of the leaders of the movement, called the National Resistance Front, is the son of the famous anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.
The NRF is prepared for a “prolonged conflict” but is also still trying to negotiate an inclusive government with the Taliban, spokesman Ali Maisam Nazary told AFP in an interview.
“The precondition for a peace deal with the Taliban is decentralization, a system that guarantees social justice, equality, rights and freedom for all.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)