6 die at chaotic Kabul airport as Afghans try to flee after Taliban takeover
Kabul, Aug 16 (EFE).- At least six people died at the chaotic Kabul airport that was closed temporarily on Monday, as thousands of war-battered people tried to escape Afghanistan, fearing a Taliban reprisal a day after the insurgents captured the capital.
The dead included a Taliban fighter, who died in a shootout between American troops and insurgents that killed three civilians.
Two people, who had held on to a plane flying out of Kabul, fell to their death after the flight took off, as seen in viral videos recorded at the tarmac.
The videos shot on cellphones show the stowaways fall off like drops as the plane gains height with people shouting and screaming in shock.
More videos showed crowds of desperate residents swarming the airport runway, chasing a taxing US Air Force plane with some huddled on an aircraft wing.
Mirwais Yusufi, an eyewitness, who was at the airport hoping to escape, told EFE that a shootout erupted between Taliban fighters and US forces amid the mayhem.
Some civilians stormed onto the runway, prompting US soldiers to chase them away and secure the tarmac.
“Thousands of people, including women and children, spent their night inside the Kabul airport. The situation got chaotic after a shootout broke out between the Taliban and US soldiers,” Yusufi said.
“I saw three civilians and a Taliban fighter killed in the shootout.”
He said a Taliban fighter instructed the civilians to leave. The gunman fired a shot after the people refused.
The US forces also opened fire, killing the insurgent instantly.
“I do not know if the civilians were killed by US soldiers or by the Taliban fighters.”
One of those who fell off the plane was Fida Muhammad, 22, a Kabul resident.
Muhammad, a dentist, had married a few months ago.
“He left home today for his work. We learned about his death hours after he fell off the plane,” Ahmad, a close relative, told EFE.
Those who swarmed the airport included Afghans who worked for the US and NATO forces in the past 20 years.
The airport authorities, in a Facebook post, said they closed the airport temporarily. They asked people not to come until flights resume.
A sea of people arrived at the airport last night, with many of them without even travel documents and visas.
The scene at the airport was that distress and desperation.
Most of them were the commoners, an airport official, who requested anonymity, told EFE.