As Taliban fighters patrolled Kabul on Monday after a swift end to Afghanistan’s 20-year war, shocking visuals emerged of thousands of people mobbing the city’s airport in a bid to flee the group’s feared rule.
In one such horrific video that has since gone viral on social media, two people were seen falling off a giant plane that had reportedly taken off from Kabul minutes ago.
Exclusive - The video shows a flight from #Kabul airport where two people are thrown from a plane into the the people's homes.#Afghanistan #Taliban pic.twitter.com/GlSgjNApJj— Aśvaka - آسواکا News Agency (@AsvakaNews) August 16, 2021
Locals near the Kabul airport told local media that they saw three men hiding themselves next the wheels of the aircraft and later falling on the rooftop of nearby houses.
News18 cannot independently verify the authenticity of the claim.
Another video showed hundreds of people running alongside a US Air Force aircraft that is about to take off and a bunch of people sitting on the wings of the plane, trying to hold on to its body desperately.
There were desperate scenes at Kabul’s airport on Monday as people tried to board the few flights available. “We are afraid to live in this city," a 25-year-old ex-soldier was quoted as saying by AFP as he stood among huge crowds on the tarmac.
“Since I served in the army, the Taliban would definitely target me."
No evacuation flights are leaving Kabul airport at the moment because desperate people trying to flee the country are blocking the tarmac.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani flew out of the country on Sunday night as the insurgents encircled the capital, capping a military victory that saw them capture all cities in just 10 days. “The Taliban have won with the judgement of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honour, property and self-preservation of their countrymen," Ghani said afterwards.
Government forces collapsed without the support of the US military, which invaded in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and toppled the Taliban for its support of Al-Qaeda.
After police and other government forces gave up their posts in Kabul on Sunday, Taliban fighters took over checkpoints across the city and entered the presidential palace.
Militants with rifles slung over their shoulders also walked through the streets of the Green Zone, the formerly heavily fortified district that houses most embassies and international organisations.
The Taliban sought to reassure the international community that Afghans should not fear them, and said they will not take revenge against those who supported the US-backed alliance.
In a message posted to social media, Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar called on his fighters to remain disciplined after taking control of the city. “Now it’s time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life," he said.
The Taliban’s capture of the capital had occurred, as in many other cities, without the bloodshed that many had feared.
The United States has sent 6,000 troops to the airport to ensure the safe evacuation of embassy staff, as well as Afghans who worked as interpreters or in other support roles.
Other governments, including France, Germany and Australia, also organised charter flights.
The US government said Monday it had secured the airport, but there was still chaos with witnesses reporting soldiers firing shots into the air to ward off crowds. Authorities then cancelled all remaining commercial flights, citing the threat of looters.
The United States had earlier released a statement with more than 65 nations urging the Taliban to let Afghans leave the country, warning of accountability for any abuses.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the Taliban and all parties to “exercise restraint" and said the rights of women and girls must be protected.
The Taliban imposed an ultra-strict interpretation of sharia law during their 1996-2001 rule.
This included banning girls from schools and women from working, while people were publicly stoned to death for adultery.
Muska Dastageer, a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan, which opened five years after the Taliban were ousted, said Kabul residents felt “frightened and helpless".
“The fear just sits inside your chest like a black bird. It opens its wings and you can’t breathe," she wrote on Twitter.
Five people were killed in chaos at the Kabul airport on Monday, witnesses said. It was not immediately clear how the victims died. A U.S. official said troops had fired in the air to deter people trying to force their way onto a military flight that was set to take U.S diplomats and embassy staff out of the fallen city.
One witness, waiting for a flight out for more than 20 hours, said it was unclear if the five had been shot or killed in a stampede.