Taliban set up checkpoints around Kabul airport amid fears Afghans will be prevented from leaving the country

Taliban fighters moved checkpoints around Kabul airport today amid fears they were denying Afghans access to evacuation flights, with the United States demanding safe passage.

Tens of thousands have tried to flee Afghanistan since Islamist militants overran the capital on Sunday, completing a stunning defeat for government forces and ending two decades of war.

Taliban leaders in recent days have repeatedly vowed not to seek revenge on their opponents, while seeking to show an image of tolerance.

They also portrayed growing political power, as Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar returned from exile, and other prominent figures met with former President Hamid Karzai.

But the United States said yesterday that the Taliban had reneged on its pledge to allow Afghans who had worked with the United States and its allies out of the country.

“We have seen reports that the Taliban, contrary to their public statements and commitments to our government, are preventing Afghans who wish to leave the country from getting to the airport,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters.

We expect them to allow all US citizens, all third-country nationals, and all Afghans who wish to leave to do so safely and without harassment.

desperate to leave

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday that the new system would be “positively different” from the 1996-2001 period.

Their rule was then notorious for its overly strict interpretation of Sharia law, which featured death by stoning, preventing girls from attending school and women from working in contact with men.

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Source: Xinhua News Agency / Palestinian Authority Photos

The United States eventually led the invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban because it continued to provide sanctuary for al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks.

“I am desperate to leave and I have bad memories of their regime,” said a 30-year-old man who worked for a foreign NGO who tried to reach Kabul airport but failed to reach Kabul airport.

They hate people who have worked for other agencies rather than their movement.

The person recounted that he heard gunshots and crowds of people trying to reach the airport.

“Despite that (shooting) people were coming forward just because they knew it was worse than death waiting for them outside the airport.”

The United States said it had flown nearly 5,000 American and Afghan nationals, while France, Britain and other countries organized evacuation flights.

But the Taliban wasn’t alone in blame for the Afghans’ inability to flee.

Yesterday, the Netherlands said that its first evacuation flight returned without a single Dutch or Afghan citizen, as US forces prevented it from entering the airport.

At the beginning of the week, before the US military took more control of the airport, there were scenes of tragic desperation with throngs of people trying to board the planes.

Some footage showed hundreds of people running alongside a US Air Force plane as it rolled down the runway, while some were clinging to its side.

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A dead person was later found in the plane’s wheel well.

political power

President Joe Biden — under pressure at home and abroad over his handling of the US troop withdrawal after 20 years of war – said yesterday that some soldiers may stay past the August 31 deadline to ensure all Americans are out.

In an interview with ABC News, Biden also issued another defense of the withdrawal.

“The idea of ​​there being some way out somehow without making a mess, I don’t know how that happens,” Biden said in an interview with ABC News.

On the political front, the Taliban has continued to drive toward forming a government, meeting prominent Afghan figures from the past two decades.

Monitoring group SITE said Taliban negotiator Anas Haqqani met Karzai, Afghanistan’s first Western-backed leader after the Taliban was ousted in 2001, and Abdullah Abdullah, who led the government’s peace council.

In the United Arab Emirates, ousted President Ashraf Ghani – who fled on Sunday as militants approached the capital – said he supported negotiations between the Taliban and former top officials, and was holding his own talks to return home.

But Sherman said Ghani was “no longer a figure” on the country’s complex political stage.

© – Agence France-Presse, 2021

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