At least seven are confirmed dead amid the chaos that erupted at Kabul’s international airport as the U.S. attempted to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
The situation turned deadly as thousands of Afghan civilians swarmed Hamid Karzai International Airport, desperate to flee their country after Kabul fell under terrorist control on Sunday. The U.S. took over security at the airport over the weekend.
The Pentagon confirmed on Monday that U.S. soldiers shot and killed two armed men who fired on U.S. troops at the airport.
People hanging on to plane at Kabul airport pic.twitter.com/TSoiI2tuHC
— Lisa Bennatan (@LisaBennatan) August 16, 2021
Additionally, at least three Afghans who were holding on to the side of an Air Force jet were killed when they were run over, U.S. officials said, according to The Wall Street Journal. Several Afghans also plummeted to their deaths after they clung to the side of a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane and held on even as the plane took off and gained altitude.
Video of the chaos on the ground at the airport showed dozens of panicked Afghans running alongside the U.S. plane as it took off. Later, people could be seen in the distance falling from the plane after it had already taken off.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he fled the country on Sunday. The Taliban took over the country’s capital and the presidential palace in Kabul later that day with little resistance. Ghani’s current whereabouts are unknown.
Many of the Afghanistan security forces trained by the U.S. either fled or blanched in the face of the Taliban’s advances across the country. Some brokered ceasefire deals with the terrorists to hand over their weapons and equipment. Ultimately, the security forces failed to stop the Taliban as they took over every major city in Afghanistan at a speed that appears to have left American officials’ heads spinning.
As recently as June, Secretary of State Antony Blinken predicted that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan would not happen suddenly.
“I don’t think it is going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday,” Blinken said on June 7. “So I wouldn’t necessarily equate the departure of our forces in July, August, or by early September with some kind of immediate deterioration in the situation.”
On Sunday, Blinken took a different tack, blaming the “inability of Afghan security forces to defend their country” for the country’s swift fall.
“We’ve known all along that the Taliban was at its strongest position in terms of its strength since 2001,” the secretary of state said, adding, “we’ve said all along including back then that there was a real chance that the Taliban would make significant gains throughout Afghanistan.”
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul was evacuated over the weekend, the American flag at the embassy coming down on Sunday as the evacuation process was completed.
By Monday, President Biden had authorized a total of 7,000 troops to handle the situation in Afghanistan as the U.S. completes its withdrawal.