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16 Aug, 2021 14:47

7 killed in Kabul airport chaos as military evacuation INTERRUPTED by desperate Afghan civilians after regular flights CANCELED

7 killed in Kabul airport chaos as military evacuation INTERRUPTED by desperate Afghan civilians after regular flights CANCELED

US officials say seven people have died at Kabul airport, including some who fell from a departing American transport plane. Meanwhile, flights out of the Afghan capital have been interrupted by crowds on the runway.

The death toll was reported by the Associated Press on Monday, citing US officials. Throughout Sunday night, US troops brought in to protect the evacuation of American diplomats and workers struggled to keep hundreds of desperate Afghans off the runway at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport, which is now the only lifeline between Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and the outside world.

US troops killed two gunmen at the airport, a Pentagon official stated later on Monday, adding that there was "no indication" that they were Taliban fighters. One American troop was injured, he added.

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A number of men had clung to a US military transport plane as it took off, but fell to their deaths shortly after takeoff. Their horrifying plunge to the ground below was captured on camera, with the footage shared on social media.

Commercial flights out of Kabul were suspended on Sunday, but droves of people crowded onto the airport’s single runway regardless, in a last-ditch bid to catch a flight out of the capital.

American troops struggled to hold back the crowds overnight, and reports surfaced of volleys of gunfire and of stampedes breaking out.

Taliban fighters are also attempting to keep crowds back from the airport, per multiple reports. 

Hordes of people have still managed to scale the fence surrounding the airport, and video footage shows crowds packing the tarmac and climbing atop parked commercial planes.

Military flights were leaving the airport earlier on Monday, but the Pentagon later put a halt to them out of "an abundance of caution," a spokesman said. US and international troops were working to clear the runway of people so that flights could resume, he added.

The rush to the airport began on Sunday, when Taliban militants entered Kabul, and the ousted US-backed president, Ashraf Ghani, left the country. With the capital now under Taliban control, American and some other foreign diplomats and workers made for the airport, along with thousands of Afghan citizens looking for an escape to the West. 

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