(Kabul) The chaos at Kabul Airport, where thousands of Afghans are desperately trying to board a plane to flee the country, claimed the first casualties on Saturday when the Taliban leadership met to define the contours of an “inclusive” Define government.
Posted on Aug 21, 2021 at 3:48 pm Updated at 4:29 pm
David FOX Agence France-Presse
The footage, recorded by British news channel Sky News, shows the bodies of at least three people believed to have been crushed by crowds of people rushing against airport gates, between US soldiers on one side and fighters against Islamists on the other.
Sky reporter Stuart Ramsay, who was at the airport, said people in front of the crowd were “crushed” and paramedics rushed from one injured person to another. The pictures also show many injured.
Mr. Ramsay said people were “dehydrated and scared”. His team filmed soldiers spraying the crowd with a garden hose, saying they would “use anything to keep them cool”. Given the chaos in the area, he said the deaths seemed “inevitable”.
The roads to Kabul Airport remained congested on Saturday. Despite days of failure, thousands of families still gathered in front of the airfield, hoping to miraculously board a plane. American soldiers and an Afghan special force looked out ahead of them to keep them from entering the area.
Behind them watched the Taliban, now accused of tracking down Afghans who were working for NATO to arrest them and restrict access to the airport they wanted to leave at all costs.
On Saturday, the US embassy in Kabul called on its nationals not to enter the airport because of “potential security threats”.
“We advise US citizens not to travel to the airport at this time and avoid the airport gates unless you are given individual instruction from a US government official,” the bulletin posted on the embassy website said .
A new incarnation of despair, a video in which an American soldier lifts a baby over the barbed wire over the airport, has toured the world. “The parents asked the Marines to look after the baby because it was sick,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. “It was an act of compassion,” he added.
For Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy, it will be “impossible” to evacuate all Afghan collaborators of the Western powers before August 31st.
The US administration has scheduled the final withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan on that date and plans to evacuate more than 30,000 Americans and Afghan civilians.
In light of the “tragedy” that is unfolding in Afghanistan, Borrell estimated that Europeans must equip themselves with the military intervention capacity to face the next crises looming in Iraq and the Sahel.
Meanwhile, Taliban co-founder and number two, Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in Kabul on Saturday after spending two days in Kandahar, the cradle of the movement.
This mullah, who until then headed the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, will “meet with jihadist leaders and political leaders to form an inclusive government,” a senior Taliban official told AFP.
In recent days, more leaders of the movement have been spotted in the Afghan capital, including Khalil Haqqani, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, who has promised a $ 5 million reward for information that will enable his capture.
The Protaliban social networks revealed that Haqqani met Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, considered one of the country’s cruelest warlords, after bombing Kabul during the civil war (1992-96). Hekmatyar, known as “the butcher of Kabul”, was a rival to the Taliban before they took power between 1996 and 2001.
A “different” rule
A few hours later, the same networks proclaimed “loyalty” to their movement of Ahmad Massoud, the son of the late commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was known for his opposition to the fundamentalist group.
Ahmad Massoud, who earlier this week asked the US for weapons to defend against the new power in his Panchir Valley (northeast of Kabul), has not yet officially commented on the issue.
Since Baradar’s arrival on Afghan soil, the Taliban have given assurances that their rule is “different” from the previous one (1996-2001), characterized by extreme cruelty, especially towards women. They repeated that they wanted to form an “inclusive” government without explaining what it would be.
The Taliban said they wanted to establish “good diplomatic relations” with all countries, but warned against compromising their religious principles.
China, Russia, Turkey and Iran have given signals of openness, while Western countries remain cautious.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that his country could not bear “an additional migration burden” from Afghanistan.
“A new wave of migration is inevitable if the necessary measures are not taken in Afghanistan and Iran. Turkey, which is already hosting 5 million refugees, cannot bear the additional burden of migration, ”he said during a telephone conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel.