Ns News Online Desk: Distressing videos show expats and Western allies seeking to flee Afghanistan being blocked from boarding rescue flights out of Kabul — as Taliban fighters fire into the air, throw smoke bombs and attack the crowd outside the terminals.
“I went to the airport with my kids and family … the Taliban and Americans were shooting,” said one Australian man who until recently had worked for a foreign NGO, news.com.au reported, citing a report in AFP.
“Despite that, people were still moving forward (to get in) because they knew a situation worse than death awaited them outside the airport,” he added.
The Australian government — which placed two C-17 military transport planes on standby in the Middle East — issued an alert Thursday telling people holding visas to get to the Kabul airport for a second military flight out of the Taliban-controlled country, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.A distressing scene outside the Kabul airport shows crowds trying to escape.
Twelve people have been killed in and around the airport since Sunday, when the Taliban toppled the government, according to a NATO official and a Taliban official. The deaths were caused either by gunshots or stampedes, the Taliban official said.
“We don’t want to hurt anyone at the airport,” said the Taliban official, who declined to be identified, news.com.au reported.
The first flight of evacuees is expected to land in Australia early Friday, according to the outlet. Australia reportedly flew only 26 people out of Afghanistan in its first rescue flight, but three additional planes were preparing for missions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a flight from Dubai to Perth was scheduled to leave Thursday “and it’ll find its way to Australia.”Stephen Dziedzic, a reporter with Australia’s ABC, said he had spoken to several Australians who said it was impossible to get through as they called on their government to help.
“One Australian says Taliban guards were throwing gas bombs of some kind to disperse crowds near the airport,” Dziedzic said in a tweet.
“He says it was impossible to get through, and he has now given up on getting in. ‘It is unimaginable. Unimaginable. There is too much shooting, people getting beaten up,’” he wrote.
“You’d go forward in a line and all of a sudden they’d throw another smoke bomb at you,” he added.In another tweet, the Canberra-based reporter wrote that the Australian visa holders “say they can’t get into the terminal because of massive crowds. Gunfire is echoing. They fear they won’t be able to get out.”
Dziedzic said he spoke with an “Australian who is in tears near the airport gate. I can hear gunfire. He says it’s a disaster. They can’t get in. He’s pleading for the Govt to send someone outside the airport gates to assist: ‘Please help. They have to announce our names, bring us in.’”
Another Australian, Muftahudin Babackerkhil, who also was trying to get his family on a flight home, told ABC that the scene outside the airport was a disaster.Australia and several other countries, including the US and UK, have repeatedly pressed the insurgents to ease security checkpoints and provide safe passage to the airfield for those who want to hightail it.
Instead, the evacuations in Kabul have been marked by scenes of violence and chaos as thousands of Americans and allies try to flee the Taliban — only to be met with violence.
On Monday, President Biden said he stood by his decision to withdraw US troops and elaborated in an interview Thursday that he also stood by his strategy for doing so.