United States urges Americans to stay clear of Kabul airport as crowd chaos grows – .

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United States urges Americans to stay clear of Kabul airport as crowd chaos grows – .


At least 12 people have been killed in and around the single-track airfield since Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said.

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The United States advised Americans in Afghanistan to avoid traveling to Kabul airport on Saturday as thousands gathered in an attempt to flee the country nearly a week after Islamist militants took over. control.

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The advice came after Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar arrived in Kabul for talks with other leaders to forge a new Afghan government after the Taliban’s lightning advance across the country.

Images circulated on social media this week of Afghans rushing towards a US C-17 transport plane and clinging to its side. A separate video showed what appeared to be two people falling from a military plane as it exited Kabul.

Since then, crowds have multiplied at the airport where the armed Taliban urged those without travel documents to return home. At least 12 people have been killed in and around the single-track airfield since Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said.

“Due to the potential security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we advise US citizens to avoid going to the airport and avoid the airport gates at this time. , unless you receive individual instructions from a US government official to do so, ”he added. The Embassy notice said.

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The chaos was not the responsibility of the Taliban, a group official told Reuters. “The West could have had a better plan to evacuate. “

Switzerland has postponed a charter flight from Kabul due to the chaos, its foreign ministry said.

“The security situation around Kabul airport has deteriorated considerably in recent hours. A large number of people in front of the airport and sometimes violent clashes hinder access to the airport, ”the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The Taliban completed their sudden advance across the country as US-led forces withdrew, coinciding with what German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday to be the “breathtaking collapse” of the military Afghan.

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The Taliban official said the group plans to prepare a new model of government for Afghanistan in the coming weeks, with separate teams to tackle internal security and financial concerns.

“Experts from the former government will be called in for crisis management,” he told Reuters.

The new government structure would not be a democracy according to Western definitions, but “it will protect the rights of everyone”, added the official.

The Taliban, who follow an ultra-tough version of Sunni Islam, have presented a more moderate face since their return to power, saying they want peace, will not take revenge on old enemies and will respect women’s rights in within the framework of Islamic law. .

When in power from 1996 to 2001, they prevented women from working or going out without wearing a wrap-around burqa and prevented children from going to school.

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Baradar will meet with militant commanders, former heads of government and policymakers, as well as religious scholars, among others, the official said without giving further details.

Russia said it was important to establish good neighborly relations with Afghanistan. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday that the European Union had not recognized the Taliban and had not entered into political discussions with them.

About 12,000 foreigners and Afghans working for embassies and international aid groups have been evacuated from Kabul airport since Taliban insurgents entered the capital, a NATO official said.

“The evacuation process is slow because it is risky because we don’t want any form of clashes with Taliban members or civilians outside the airport,” the NATO official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

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“We don’t want to start a blame game about the escape plan. “

DROPPING TALES

Individual Afghans and international aid and defense groups have reported harsh retaliation against protests and roundups by those who had previously held government positions, criticized the Taliban, or worked with Americans.

“We have heard of some cases of atrocities and crimes against civilians,” the Taliban official said on condition of anonymity.

“If (members of the Taliban) tackle these public order issues, they will be investigated,” he said. “We can understand panic, stress and anxiety. People think we won’t be responsible, but we won’t. “

Former officials have told harrowing stories of hiding from the Taliban in recent days as gunmen have been going door to door. A family of 16 described running to the bathroom, the lights off and the children’s mouths covered, fearing for their lives. Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political bureau, was part of the group’s negotiating team in the Qatari capital of Doha.

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He was said to have been one of the most trusted commanders of former Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar, Baradar was captured in 2010 by security forces in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi and released. in 2018.

The delay in forming a new Afghan government or even in announcing who will lead a new Taliban administration underscores how unprepared the movement was for the sudden collapse of West-trained forces. he had fought for years.

The Taliban, whose chief general Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada has so far remained publicly silent, must also unite disparate groups within the movement whose interests may not always coincide now that victory is achieved.

As Western countries scrambled to speed up evacuations, President Joe Biden faced criticism of the planning for the US troop withdrawal.

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“I haven’t seen any questioning of our credibility from our allies,” Biden told reporters after a White House speech Friday. “In fact, it’s exactly the opposite… we act diligently, we act, we commit to what we said we would do. “

He insisted that any Americans who wished would be evacuated.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the situation outside Kabul airport “very dire and difficult”, as several member countries insisted that evacuations continue beyond the US deadline of August 31.

(Reporting from the Kabul office, Rupam Jain, James Mackenzie and Charlotte Greenfield; writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Nick Macfie; editing by Clarence Fernandez, William Mallard, Raissa Kasolowsky and Giles Elgood)

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