U.S. forces at Kabul International Airport fired into the air on Monday in an attempt to gain control of the crowd that is desperate to leave the country after the Taliban takeover, a report said.
Reuters, citing a U.S. official, reported that the shots were fired into the air to prevent hundreds from running onto the tarmac.
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“The firing was done to defuse the chaos,” the official said.
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Morning dawned in the city on Monday and videos were posted on social media that showed hundreds sprinting to the airport. Some were seen running in families with young children with luggage and bags in tow. On one side of the fence, they see life under Taliban rule, on the other, a chance at freedom.
The Wall Street Journal described the conditions inside the airport: “Afghans with small children sat dazed next to European special-forces operators with their sniper rifles and high-tech helmets equipped with night vision and infrared tags. Outside, the engines of helicopters and transport planes provided a steady, almost lulling, hum. Once in a while, groups of evacuees—the staff of the Indian embassy, or Bulgarian security contractors—donned helmets and body armor and set off toward their plane.”
The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan at one point told U.S. citizens in Kabul to shelter in place because of the changing security dynamics and reports that the airport was taking fire.
Ian Bremmer, the political scientist, retweeted the message and posted, “It’s a debacle.”
Afghan airlines Ariana and Kam Air have every seat booked for at least the next week, airport workers said.
Andleeb Rana, a spokeswoman for the British High Commission in Pakistan, took to Twitter to talk about video footage on broadcast news.
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“Images i will never forget watching the news channels today: fathers carrying their young daughters, running desperately & aimlessly at the #Kabul aiport, just wanting to leave somehow. If not together, then wanting to let daughters just leave. Heartbreaking.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report