KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — At least seven Afghans died in a panicked crush of individuals making an attempt to enter Kabul’s worldwide airport, the British navy mentioned Sunday, as 1000’s have been nonetheless making an attempt to flee the nation in a chaotic exodus per week after the Taliban takeover.
The Taliban moved to confront the primary stirrings of armed resistance since capturing nearly all of Afghanistan in a matter of days earlier this month. Anti-Taliban fighters claimed to have seized three mountainous districts, and a outstanding militia commander in the one province not but below Taliban management pledged to struggle again if attacked.
The British navy on Sunday acknowledged not less than seven deaths on the airport. Others could have been trampled, suffocated or suffered coronary heart assaults as Taliban fighters fired into the air to attempt to drive again the crowds. Soldiers coated a number of corpses in white clothes. Other troops stood on concrete obstacles, making an attempt to calm the group.
Kabul’s airport, now one of many solely routes in a foreign country, has seen days of chaos because the Taliban entered the capital on Aug. 15. Thousands poured onto the tarmac final week, and several other Afghans plunged to their deaths after clinging to a U.S. navy cargo aircraft because it took off, a number of the seven killed on Aug. 16.
The Taliban have pledged amnesty to those that labored with the U.S., NATO and the toppled Afghan authorities, however many Afghans nonetheless fear revenge assaults. There have been reviews in current days of the Taliban searching down their former enemies. It’s unclear if Taliban leaders are saying one factor and doing one other, or if fighters are taking issues into their very own fingers.
Outside the airport on Saturday, Western troops in full fight gear tried to regulate crowds sufficiently big to be seen in satellite tv for pc photographs. They carried away some who have been sweating and pale. With temperatures reaching 34 levels Celsius (93 F), the troopers sprayed water from a hose on these gathered and gave out bottled water.
“The situation at Kabul airport remains extremely challenging and unpredictable,” a NATO official mentioned on situation of anonymity consistent with rules. The official was not in a position to verify a exact variety of casualties.
The U.S. Embassy, which has relocated to the navy aspect of the airport, has instructed American residents and others to not come to the airport till they obtain exact directions.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan instructed CNN that 3,900 folks had been airlifted out of Kabul on U.S. navy flights up to now 24 hours, up from 1,600 the day prior to this. That’s along with about 3,900 folks airlifted on non-U.S. navy flights over the previous 24 hours. It stays far beneath the 5,000 to 9,000 that the navy says it has the capability to airlift day by day.
Britain mentioned it had airlifted greater than 5,000 folks, together with 1,000 within the final 14 hours.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program, requesting 18 plane from U.S. carriers to help in transporting Afghan refugees after they’re evacuated to different international locations. The voluntary program, born within the wake of the Berlin airlift, provides to the navy’s capabilities throughout crises.
President Joe Biden has vowed to deliver home all Americans from Afghanistan and to evacuate Afghans who aided the U.S. conflict effort. U.S. navy helicopters have been used to gather 169 Americans from exterior the airport. Tens of 1000’s of Americans and others are nonetheless hoping to fly out.
There even have been considerations a few potential assault on the airport by a neighborhood Islamic State affiliate. U.S. navy planes have been executing corkscrew landings, and different plane have fired flares upon takeoff, measures used to forestall missile assaults.
The Taliban blame the chaotic evacuation on the U.S. navy, saying there’s no want for Afghans to fear them, although their fighters shoot into the air and beat folks with batons as they attempt to management the crowds exterior the airport.
“All Afghanistan is secure, but the airport, which is managed by the Americans, has anarchy,” Amir Khan Motaqi, a senior Taliban official, mentioned Sunday. The U.S. “should not embarrass itself to the world and should not give this mentality to our people that (the Taliban) are a kind of enemy.”
Speaking to an Iranian state tv channel Saturday night time in a video name, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem additionally blamed the deaths on the airport on the Americans.
“The Americans announced that ‘we would take you to America with us,’ and people gathered at Kabul airport,” Naeem mentioned. “If it was announced right now in any country in the world, would people not go?”
The Taliban have sought to undertaking a extra reasonable picture than after they final dominated the nation, from 1996 till the U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 assaults, which al-Qaida carried out whereas being sheltered by the Taliban. During their earlier rule, ladies have been largely confined to their properties, tv and music have been banned, and public executions have been held — all in accordance with the Taliban’s harsh model of Islamic rule.
This time, the Taliban are holding talks with Afghan officers from earlier governments on a political transition and say they may restore peace and safety after a long time of conflict. Afghan officers conversant in the talks say the Taliban have mentioned they won’t announce a authorities till after the Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. troop withdrawal.
But they already face stirrings of resistance.
In Baghlan province, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Kabul, fighters calling themselves the “People’s Uprising” claimed to have seized three districts within the Andarab Valley, nestled within the towering Hindu Kush mountains.
Khair Mohammad Khairkhwa, the previous provincial head of intelligence, and Abdul Ahmad Dadgar, one other chief within the rebellion, mentioned Taliban fighters had burned down properties and kidnapped kids. Two different officers, who spoke on situation of anonymity, made related allegations. The Taliban didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
In the close by Panjshir province — the one one but to fall below Taliban management — a bunch of militia leaders and officers from the ousted authorities have pledged to defend it in opposition to the Taliban, who circulated video displaying their fighters heading towards the area.
The province is a stronghold of the Northern Alliance fighters who joined with the U.S. to topple the Taliban in 2001, and Ahmad Massoud, the son of a well-known Northern Alliance commander assassinated days earlier than the 9/11 assaults, has appeared in movies from there.
But it seems unlikely just a few thousand guerrilla fighters will quickly succeed the place the Afghan nationwide safety forces failed regardless of 20 years of Western help, help and coaching.
“If Taliban warlords launch an assault, they will of course face staunch resistance from us,” Massoud mentioned in an interview with the Al-Arabiya information community. But he additionally expressed openness to dialogue with the Taliban.
Akhgar reported from Istanbul and Gambrell from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem, Robert Burns in Washington, Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed.
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