Mass exodus at Kabul airport in Afghanistan leave 7 dead as civilians try to flee the country now controlled by the Taliban.
By Maryam Razzaq
Reports came over the weekend of the Taliban successfully taking over the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul after the President, Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
Ghani, a man who once promised to rebuild Afghanistan, fled the country within hours of the Taliban entering Kabul. Ghani rose to power seven years ago with promises to the people of Afghanistan that he would modernize the country, actively fight against corruption, boost the economy, and protect human rights. This past Sunday, it was confirmed that Ghani fled the nation, abandoning his people to an uncertain future.
In a statement through his Facebook account, Ghani shared: “In order to avoid the bleeding flood, I thought it best to get out. Taliban have won the judgment of sword and guns and now they are responsible for protecting the countrymen’s honor, wealth and self-esteem.”
The Presidential Palace in Kabul was officially handed over to the Taliban after their rapid advance across the nation as they continued to seize power of cities in Afghanistan. The violent and extremist group shared pictures of the palace’s interior, empty and abandoned by Afghan officials.
Thousands of Afghans rushed onto the tarmac at the Kabul International Airport on Monday, many of them in desperate attempt to escape the Taliban taking over their country. Video footage that was released shows Afghans grabbing onto an American military jet as it takes off, and many falling to their death. According to senior U.S. military officials, at least 7 civilians were killed.
Shots could be heard in video footage. It is said that the U.S. troops are spraying gas and firing shots in the air to disperse the large Afghan crowds swarming the tarmac.
Afghanistan’s western-trained army collapsed as the Taliban took control of the nation just weeks before the scheduled withdrawal of the U.S. troops.
Afghan civilians remain fearful and are being seen hiding in their homes as reports of looting and armed men knocking on gates and doors make the rounds. The Taliban have freed thousands of prisoners and the nation prepares itself for yet again, extremist rule under the Taliban.
A Kabul resident, Wahidullah Wadiri, a Kabul resident shared his hopes of peace.
“We haven’t seen anything, but catastrophes and fighting, so we always live with hope for a long-lasting peace,” he said.
The UK’s defense secretary, Ben Wallace shared with Sky News on Monday that the British and NATO forces will not be returning to fight the Taliban as he acknowledged that “the Taliban are in control of the country.”
The United States Deputy National Security Advisor, Jon Finer says that the US’ focus is on securing the Kabul airport. Additional US forces will arrive at the airport on Monday and Tuesday. The US currently has halted evacuating flights from Kabul until it is clear of people trying to flee the country. It is unclear when the flights will resume, but US Defense officials are sharing that they aim to evacuate tens of thousands of Afghans who are at risk as they worked for the US government.
The UK’s Minister of Defense have committed to sending 800 troops to Afghanistan to assist in evacuating British citizen and local allies in Afghanistan.
The Government of Canada announced the resettlement of 20,000 vulnerable Afghan refugees in the coming weeks. The Canadian Armed Forces will be providing additional flights as needed.
The Taliban ruled over Afghanistan from 1996 to 2011 while implementing extremely harsh Islamic laws. While this time around, the Taliban have shared that they intent to rule with moderation, Afghans remain skeptical and are enveloped with a sense of helplessness and fear about their safety.