Seven Afghan civilians were killed at the Kabul airport in the chaos of the evacuation


News about Afghanistan

Seven Afghan civilians were killed near Kabul International Airport as Western forces struggled to evacuate people from the country, a week after the Taliban took control.

The British Ministry of Defense said the Afghans “died in the crowd”, adding that conditions on the ground “remain extremely challenging”.

The deaths came amid growing criticism of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Tony Blair, who as British prime minister ordered British forces to enter the country 20 years ago, justified the withdrawal of President Joe Biden as “imbecile”.

Mr Blair said the withdrawal was “tragic” and “unnecessary” in his first public statements since Kabul fell to the Taliban. He said ua statement that the U.S. decision to leave Afghanistan was made “with every jihadist group around the world that cheered,” adding that Britain had a “moral obligation” to assist in evacuation and provide shelter to Afghans.

He described the US exit deal with the Taliban signed under former US President Donald Trump as “full of concessions” and guided “not by big strategy, but by politics”.

Blair’s condemnation followed crazy scenes in Kabul, where Taliban fighters blocked desperate Afghan nationals and part of foreign personnel from reaching Kabul airport.

Thousands of Afghans desperate to leave the country have gathered around Kabul airport but cannot enter the area controlled by U.S. forces. The Taliban, who control the entrances to the civilian side of the airport, set up checkpoints leading to the transport hub and allegedly fired into the air and used batons in an attempt to control the crowd.

One person familiar with the evacuation process said that it is almost impossible for people to enter the airport if they do not have the diplomatic escort provided by Qatar, which has relations with the United States and the Taliban. Qatar transported thousands of people to the airport and resumed work over the weekend after suspending them on Friday for security reasons.

Christian Nellemann, executive director of the Rhipto-Norwegian Center for Global Analysis in Norway, said that although the Taliban seemed to be letting Westerners through checkpoints, they were stopping Afghans from passing.

“They are looking for. . . especially for the people in the Afghan security services, which means they are moving towards high priority goals, ”he said. “What we fear is that, once the evacuation of Westerners is complete, they will begin to gather people more systematically.”

The United States issued an advisory statement on Saturday urging its citizens not to travel to Kabul airport unless otherwise instructed. U.S. officials have also warned of the growing risk of terrorist attacks launched by the Afghan branch of the terrorist group Isis, which carried out a rocket attack on the presidential palace in Kabul last month.

Since the Taliban took power, Afghans who were part of Ashraf Ghani’s government, as well as security forces, activists and journalists have reported being threatened by Taliban fighters, who have gone door-to-door in search of collaborators.

The Taliban recaptured Kabul a week ago after a lightning offensive across the country, taking control for the first time since they were overthrown by the 2001 U.S. invasion following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

During its time in power, the Islamist group pursued a brutal theocracy, depriving women of their rights and applying a medieval form of justice to public executions. It has also allowed Islamist extremist groups to flourish in the country.

Taliban leaders, including co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in Kabul over the weekend with the aim of forming a new administration.

Hamid Karzai, former Afghan president and former peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah have advocated for an inclusive government that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and for potentially securing roles in the new administration.

Karzai and Abdullah met with senior Taliban officials, including those from the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate closely linked to Pakistan’s intelligence service, in an attempt to reach an agreement on power-sharing.

Ahmad Wali Massoud, brother of slain Afghan military leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, from an anti-Taliban bastion in the Panjshir Valley, warned a broad civil uprising if the militants do not agree to the deal.

But after a quick Taliban offensive across the country, analysts say their political opponents have little influence in extorting concessions and could fight to mobilize war-weary populations.

Additional reports by Andrew England and Helen Warrell in London

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