The Taliban advised Afghans waiting outside Kabul airport with the hope of fleeing the country to return home on Thursday, claiming they did not want to hurt anyone. This comes a day after Taliban fighters opened fire on protestors, killing three people, according to reports.
On 19 August, Afghanistan’s Independence Day, the United States and other Western powers continued to evacuate their nationals and some of their Afghan staff from the airport, which could spark more protests against the Islamists.
While Kabul has been relatively calm since Taliban troops entered on Sunday following a week of remarkable advances across the country, the airport has been in shambles as people frantically sought a way out of the Afghan capital.
Twelve people have been killed in and around the airport since Sunday, a NATO and a Taliban official said. The deaths were caused either by gun shots or by stampedes, the Taliban official said.
About 8,000 people have been flown out since Sunday, a Western security official said. The U.S. military is in charge of the airport while Taliban fighters patrol outside its walled and fenced perimeter.
On Wednesday, witnesses said Taliban gunmen prevented people from getting into the airport compound.
A Taliban official said commanders and soldiers had fired into the air to disperse the crowd. The situation was more calm on Thursday, witnesses said.
Under a pact negotiated last year by former President Donald Trump’s administration, the United States agreed to withdraw its forces in exchange for a Taliban guarantee they would not let Afghanistan be used to launch terrorist attacks.
The Taliban also agreed not to attack foreign forces as they left.
President Joe Biden said American forces would remain until the evacuation of Americans was finished, even if that meant staying past August 31, the United States deadline for withdrawal.
The Taliban have been putting on a moderate face, saying they have changed since their 1996-2001 rule when they severely restricted women, staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues.
They now say they want peace, will not take revenge against old enemies and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.
But there are serious doubts about their assurances.