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Thousands of people were seen running for planes in countless videos posted to social media at the airport in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, as the Taliban takes control of the country.
Some of the videos were posted late on Sunday night and during the early morning hours on Monday local Afghanistan time.
“Witnesses at the civilian domestic terminal said they had heard occasional gunshots and said thousands of people had crammed into the terminal and filled the parking lots, desperately seeking flights out,” The New York Times reported. “Late Sunday, the State and Defense Departments issued a statement saying the U.S. was working to secure control of the airport and to speed up the evacuation using civilian and military flights.”
Another Saigon moment: chaotic scenes at Kabul International Airport. No security. None. pic.twitter.com/6BuXqBTHWk
— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) August 15, 2021
Thousands of frantic Afghans rush to Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul in an effort to escape the Taliban, amid sounds of gunfire. pic.twitter.com/pb1J8Z5BZw
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) August 15, 2021
Other videos, posted on Monday morning, showed thousands of people running toward the airfield as machine gun fire was heard in the background.
— Jawad Sukhanyar (@JawadSukhanyar) August 16, 2021
The Department of Defense (DOD) released a joint statement with the Department of State late on Sunday, saying that they were working to secure the airport.
The statement said:
At present we are completing a series of steps to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable the safe departure of U.S. and allied personnel from Afghanistan via civilian and military flights. Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control. Tomorrow and over the coming days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals. And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas, nearly 2,000 of whom have already arrived in the United States over the past two weeks. For all categories, Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States. And we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened.
Finally — something on the record from the Pentagon: pic.twitter.com/23Z0Ey2rMi
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) August 15, 2021
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) reportedly heard from Americans trapped inside Afghanistan behind enemy lines, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
“Cotton spokesman says that their office has heard from multiple US citizens in Kabul trapped behind Taliban checkpoints, who can’t safely reach the US perimeter and have no clear option for what to do,” Haberman wrote on Twitter.
Haberman’s tweet came in response to Cotton tweeting: “If you’re an American stranded in Afghanistan, or know one who is, please contact my office immediately: (501) 223-9081 or [email protected] The situation is dire, but we’ll do everything in our power to help keep you informed and to help get you out.”
Cotton spokesman says that their office has heard from multiple US citizens in Kabul trapped behind Taliban checkpoints, who can’t safely reach the US perimeter and have no clear option for what to do. https://t.co/rY5QTSPLKd
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 16, 2021