US forces fired shots in the air on Monday morning August 16 at Kabul airport, where thousands of Afghans seeking to flee their country due to the Taliban seizure of power have invaded the tarmac, a US official told Reuters news agency.
“The crowd was out of control”, explained this manager, by phone. “The shootings only took place to defuse the chaos”, he added. A witness, contacted by Agence France-Presse, said he had ” very scared “. “They fire shots in the air. [Dans la cohue], I saw a young girl being crushed and killed ”, he said.
Commercial flights have been canceled, the capital’s airport authority announced later in the morning. “There will be no commercial flights from Hamid-Karzai airport, to prevent looting. Please don’t rush to the airport ”, she said in a message sent to the press.
The evacuation of diplomats and other foreign nationals was organized at a breakneck pace all weekend in Kabul, fell into the hands of the Taliban after a lightning military offensive that swept through the Afghan armed forces.
Diplomatic staff transferred to the airport
Afghan citizens and foreigners wanting to flee the country “Must be allowed to do so”, pleaded the United States and sixty-five other countries in a joint statement released on the night of Sunday to Monday, warning the Taliban that they must show ” responsibility “ in the matter. The European Union had previously stressed that the arrival of the Taliban in Kabul had “Made protection even more urgent” against possible reprisals against its Afghan personnel, which it is trying to secure.
The US military announced on Monday that it had ” secured “ Kabul airport, where its embassy staff, including US Ambassador Ross Wilson, have been gathered while awaiting evacuation. ” Several hundred “ employees of the US embassy in Kabul have already left Afghanistan, a Pentagon official said on Sunday. The State Department and the Pentagon have claimed that the American flag has been removed from the United States Embassy in the Afghan capital and “Put to safety”.
The American president, Joe Biden, had increased to 5,000 soldiers the military device at the airport of Kabul to carry out this evacuation, which concerns approximately 30,000 people. He decided on Sunday to send 1,000 more soldiers. As the day before, American helicopters continued their incessant rotations between the American embassy, a gigantic complex located in the “Green zone” ultra-fortified, in the center of the capital, and the airport, now the only way out of the country.
Germany, France and the Netherlands are among the countries which also transferred members of their diplomatic staff from their embassy in Kabul to the airport before an evacuation. Germany was planning the first departures on Sunday evening for its diplomats at the airport. Other NATO member countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark and Spain, have also announced the evacuation of their diplomatic staff, as has Sweden.
Some Afghan employees evacuated
The French foreign ministry announced on Sunday that Paris was deploying military reinforcements to the United Arab Emirates to facilitate the evacuation of its nationals from Kabul. More than 600 Afghans employed in French organizations have arrived in France with their families, the government said on Friday.
The progression of the Taliban had led London to announce, Thursday evening, the sending of about 600 soldiers to evacuate its nationals. While the Sunday Times asserted that the United Kingdom was preparing the evacuation of its ambassador, Laurie Bristow, and did not intend to maintain a diplomatic presence, the foreign ministry assured that the latter remained in Kabul as it was.
Canada announced the temporary closure of its embassy on Sunday evening, adding that Canadian staff were already on their way home. The Italian defense ministry spoke of the arrival on Sunday of a first military aircraft to start operations.“Emergency evacuation”.
Denmark and Norway reported the temporary closure of their embassies in Kabul, while Finland planned to evacuate up to 130 local Afghan workers. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde also said that among those evacuated were Afghan interpreters and other local staff.
Meanwhile, the Dutch embassy in Kabul was working from a makeshift office near the airport on Sunday. The Netherlands said on Friday it would host Afghan interpreters and other embassy staff.
Finally, Russia did not plan to evacuate its embassy. “No evacuation is planned”, said Sunday, Zamir Kabulov, Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan, quoted by the Interfax news agency. Russia is among the countries that have received guarantees from the Taliban regarding the security of their embassy, Kabulov said. All members of the Saudi Arabian diplomatic mission, however, were evacuated from Kabul, the foreign ministry said.
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