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Chaos and panic in Kabul: thousands of Afghans crowd the airport as shots ring out

Thousands of people gathered again this Saturday morning at the Kabul airport to try to flee Afghanistan, amid growing chaos and fear over the constant gunshots that were heard in the surroundings.

The US embassy in Afghanistan advised US citizens to avoid the site due to “potential security threats” amid a complicated evacuation operation.

According to witnesses to the DPA agency, the Afghans were there with the news that the north gate of the airport will remain closed for the next two days, after a week of chaos, clashes and a permanent avalanche of Afghans and foreigners trying to leave the country after the return to power of the Taliban.

Another witness said that outside the airport there were actors, television personalities, young people, women with newborn babies or people in wheelchairs, among many others who desperately seek to leave a country submerged in uncertainty and fear of the future.

Witnesses from the British network Sky News speak of a particularly critical situation, as regards “worst day so far” since the evacuations began.

Sources in the chain confirmed that many of the Afghans waiting in the surroundings are already receiving medical attention and that the shots in the surroundings are the work of the military forces that are clearing the area to “relieve pressure on the front.”

Afghans have been waiting for six days for someone to allow them to board a flight to leave the country through from Kabul airport, the only part of the capital controlled by international troops.

Many desperate Afghans who worked with international troops over the past two decades or who are involved in sectors such as human rights they fear for their lives, and many try to get themselves or their relatives into the airport.

Fear of revenge

A report compiled for the United Nations warned that the Taliban are carrying out selective searches for alleged collaborators of the overthrown government, despite assurances from the radical Islamist group that it would not retaliate.

For now, there have been repeated armed clashes at the airport gates.

The US Army decides when and how to open and close the entrances without clear criteria, a situation that ignites the fury of Afghans waiting to enter.

Negotiations to form a government

While the chaos at the airport continued, the senior staff of the Taliban movement met this Saturday in the Afghan capital to negotiate a future “inclusive” government.

A Taliban leader reported that the group’s co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, came to Kabul “to hold talks with leaders of jihadist fighters and with political leaders to form an inclusive government.”

Taliban leaders indicated that these meetings included senior leaders of the Haqqani network, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, which offers millions of dollars for its leaders.

US Warning

Amid the chaos, the US embassy in Afghanistan advised US citizens to avoid going to the Kabul airport due to “potential security threats” as the US military began expanding its evacuation operations beyond those facilities.

In a notice on its website, the Embassy insists citizens to to stay away from the airport entrances “Unless they receive individual instructions from a representative of the United States government” to attend.

“US citizens requesting assistance to leave the country and who have not yet completed the Request for Repatriation Assistance for each traveler in their group should do so as soon as possible,” the note remarks.

The warning adds that “spouses and minor children of US citizens in Afghanistan who are awaiting immigrant visas must also complete the relevant forms if they wish to depart.”

Source: DPA and AFP



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