The evacuation effort for thousands of Afghans who worked with and for foreign governments has stalled after Taliban militants surrounded Kabul’s airport, threatening and assaulting those who attempt to enter.
The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that the Karzai International Airport could resume military and civilian flights. Few can access the airport, however, after the Taliban set up military checkpoints keeping people out. As The Wall Street Journal reported:
However, many thousands of Afghans who had been employed by Western embassies and nongovernment organizations in Kabul remained stranded and unable to reach the airport for evacuation flights as the Taliban erected checkpoints at airport entrances, whipping and beating Afghans who attempted to cross.
Some evacuation flights were leaving near-empty as a result; the German military’s A400M Airbus, with a capacity of well over 100 passengers, took off Tuesday with just seven passengers aboard.
Taliban militants have set up checkpoints throughout the city to vet the city’s residents for evidence they worked with western countries, as well as check their devices for illicit content and English messages, the Journal reported.
Thousands of Americans are also believed to be trapped behind the Taliban checkpoints, though the exact number of Americans is unknown. As The Daily Wire reported:
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told CNN that there are “certainly thousands of Americans…we don’t have an exact count.”
“Best guess…between five and ten thousand that are near Kabul,” he continued. “There was a message put out by the State Department today advising those Americans about how to queue up and how to get to the airport so that now that security’s better, they don’t need to necessarily shelter in place.”
“They can begin movement to the airport for processing,” Kirby added.
The United States shut down Karzai on Monday after thousands of Afghans broke through airport security and crowded on the airstrip. Some attempted to cling to departing jets to escape Afghanistan and the coming Taliban rule. Several Afghans were caught on video falling from the jets after taking off. Human remains were found in the wheel well of a jet that was forced into an emergency landing because its landing gear had malfunctioned.
The United States is preparing to take up to 30,000 visa holders from Afghanistan, along with evacuating all U.S. personnel and troops. The Afghans that the U.S. is attempting to relocate are among the many that worked with the United States military during operations in Afghanistan.
“We want to have the capacity to get up to several thousand immediately, and want to be prepared for the potential of tens of thousands,” Kirby said Monday. “Bliss and McCoy have the capability right now – and what’s advantageous is with a little bit of work, they could increase their capacity in very short order.”
“Once we get more airlift out of Kabul, we’re going to put as many people on those planes as we can. There will be a mix, not just American citizens, but perhaps some Afghan SIV applicants as well,” he continued. “We’re going to focus on getting people out of the country, then sorting it out at the next stop. It’s not going to be just Americans first, then SIV applicants. We’re going to focus on getting as many folks out as we can.”
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