Taliban fighters reportedly are preventing some designated evacuees from entering Kabul airport using heavy arms.
Thousands of people have sought to flee Kabul since the Taliban took control over the weekend, fearing a return to the strict implementation of Islamic law imposed during the previous Taliban reign, which ended 20 years ago.
“Everyone wants out,” said a member of an Afghan family after they successfully fled to Germany, according to Reuters. “Every day is worse than the day before. We saved ourselves but we couldn’t rescue our families.”
The U.S. said the Taliban had agreed to provide “safe passage” for anybody wishing to travel to the airport. However, reports from the Afghan capital claim that checkpoints on Airport Road have seen the opposite reality, with images showing a mother and a child with head injuries after allegedly being beaten and lashed for attempting to cross a checkpoint, The Guardian reported.
To the desperate crowds outside of the Kabul airport, social media updates showed Taliban fighters were using gunfire,
whips, sticks, and sharp objects to contain the people. This resulted in injuries in not only women but also small children.
“It’s a complete disaster. The Taliban were firing into the air, pushing people, beating them with AK47s,” said one person who was trying to get through, Reuters reported.
One Taliban official confirmed with the outlet that its fighters were indeed using gunfire to control the crowds outside Kabul airport but had “no intention” of hurting anyone.
The Guardian reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the 4,500 U.S. troops in Kabul would not be able to bring evacuees to the airport since they need to concentrate on safeguarding the airfield and have inadequate forces and firepower to expand the mission.
“I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Austin said. “And where do you take that? How far do you extend into Kabul, and how long does it take to flow those forces in to be able to do that?”
Meanwhile, ABC News reported multiple Americans were unable to access the Hamid Karzai International Airport for evacuations despite their email calls from the State Department.
Even with a legitimate access pass, apparently provided by the State Department, at least one American passport holder and one green card holder were barred access by U.S. personnel.
In the past 24 hours, about 5,000 diplomats, security personnel, relief workers, and Afghans have been removed from Kabul. Military flights will continue around the clock, a Western official revealed to Reuters.
President Joe Biden said the chaos in the evacuation was inevitable in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos when he asked if the situation could have somehow been better managed.
“No, I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that, we’re gonna go back in hindsight and look—but the idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how that happened,” Biden said.