The British government reported that seven people were killed in a crowd near Kabul airport

Seven people were killed in crowds near Kabul airport amid the chaos as thousands of people gathered trying to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban Islamists took control, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Sunday: “Our thoughts go out to the families of the seven Afghan civilians who tragically perished amid crowds in Kabul.”

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“Conditions on the ground are still very challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible.”

Witnesses said the new Afghan Taliban rulers imposed some order around the chaotic Kabul airport on Sunday, firing into the air and using batons to make sure people were standing in orderly queues outside the main gates and not congregating at the perimeter.

Australia flew four flights to Kabul on Saturday night, evacuating more than 300 people, including Australians, Afghan visa holders, New Zealanders, US and British nationals, Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The United States and Germany on Saturday asked their citizens in Afghanistan to avoid traveling to Kabul airport, citing security risks as thousands of desperate people gathered to try to flee.

At least 12 people have been killed in and around the single-runway airport since last Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said. Witnesses said some were shot, while others died in a stampede.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said seven Afghans were killed in the chaos surrounding the airport.

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The Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan sparked fear of reprisals and a return to a strict version of Islamic law practiced by the Sunni Islamist group when it was in power two decades ago.

Crowds at the airport have grown in heat and dust today over the past week, hampering operations as the United States and other countries attempt to evacuate thousands of their diplomats and civilians as well as many Afghans. Fathers, fathers, and children rushed toward the destroyed concrete walls as they sought to get out.

Switzerland postponed a charter flight from Kabul on Saturday due to chaos at the airport.

Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor, with the US Army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon briefing that 5,800 US troops remained at the airport and that the facility “remains secure.” Taylor said some airport gates have temporarily closed and reopened over the past day to facilitate the safe flow of evacuees.

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Evacuated children wait for the next flight at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan. US Marines photos

A Taliban official told Reuters on Saturday that security risks could not be ruled out but that the movement was “aiming to improve the situation and provide a smooth exit” for people trying to leave at the weekend.

Last week, Taylor said, the United States evacuated 17,000 people from Kabul, including 2,500 Americans. He said 3,800 people were evacuated last day on US military and chartered planes.

The White House said President Joe Biden will provide an update on Sunday on the evacuation of American citizens and refugees from Afghanistan.

The White House said that the president will deliver a speech at 4 pm EST (2000 GMT), after meeting with his national security team to hear the latest intelligence, security and diplomatic developments on the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

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US Marines at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, last Friday. Photo by Reuters

Taliban leaders are trying to form a new government after their forces swept across the country with the withdrawal of US-led forces after two decades, with the collapse of the government and military backed by the West.

Biden has come under fire over the situation in Afghanistan, including from former President Donald Trump, who called it “the greatest foreign policy humiliation” in US history, even though the Trump administration negotiated the withdrawal that led to the collapse.

“Biden’s failed exit from Afghanistan is the most astonishing display of gross incompetence by the leader of any nation, perhaps ever,” Trump told a raucous crowd in Alabama.

In Qatar, which is hosting thousands of evacuees so they can enter a third country, Afghans who have fled in interviews with Reuters described the desperation of leaving their loved ones behind as they face their uncertain future.

A law student spoke of looting carried out by the Taliban during their control of Kabul, with gunmen terrorizing people heading to the airport. He left behind his wife, whom he married on a video call before the eviction.

“Our minds have come home because our families are here,” he said on condition of anonymity due to concerns about relatives left behind.

The co-founder of the Taliban, Mullah Baradar, has arrived in the Afghan capital for talks with other leaders.

The Taliban official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Baradar will hold meetings to prepare a new model for governing Afghanistan in the next few weeks, with separate teams to address internal security and financial issues.

“Experts from the previous government will be brought in to manage crises,” the official said.

The Taliban follow a strict version of Islam. They have sought to present a more moderate face since their return to power, saying they want peace and will respect women’s rights within the framework of Islamic law.

When they were in power from 1996 to 2001, also guided by Islamic law, the Taliban forbade women from working or going outside without wearing the fully encapsulated burqa and prevented girls from attending school.

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