Afghanistan: 12 people killed at Kabul airport as crowds try to flee Taliban rule

19 August 2021, 07:27 | Updated: 19 August 2021, 08:19

There have been 12 deaths in or near Kabul aiport, officials say
There have been 12 deaths in or near Kabul aiport, officials say. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A total of 12 people have been killed near and inside Kabul's airport as crowds try to flee the Taliban's rule.

The deaths, which were reported by NATO and Taliban officials, have taken place since of the fall of the capital on Sunday, Reuters said.

A Taliban official said they were killed either by gun shots or stampedes and said people at the airport should go home if they are not allowed to travel.

International forces have secured Hamid Karzai International as countries look to extract their citizens and Afghan refugees after the government collapsed.

Read more: Desperate Afghan mothers fleeing Taliban 'throw babies over Kabul airport barbed wire'

Read more: Taliban 'beat and whip' crowds as regime tightens grip on Afghanistan

Reports from the airport pain a picture of chaos, with huge numbers of people filmed trying to get inside in the hopes they will be eligible to be flown out.

Afghans have been desperate to flee the return of the Taliban regime, with fears that the group will implement a strict version of sharia law and carry out reprisals on those who helped government and international forces.

Among the most distressing accounts of disorder at the airport are those of desperate mothers throwing their babies over the perimeter barbed wire in the hopes foreign forces will take them out of Afghanistan.

US and British troops have tried to keep order after scenes of people flocking onto the runway and surrounding aeroplanes - in some cases, climbing onto them - were broadcast around the world.

There have also been accounts of the Taliban beating and whipping people nearby in a crude form of crowd control.

"We don't want to hurt anyone at the airport," Reuters quoted a Taliban official as saying.

The UK has started a scheme which could see up to 20,000 Afghans resettle, with 5,000 coming in its first year.

Speaking to LBC on Thursday, defence secretary Ben Wallace said the Taliban had been cooperating.

"The Taliban are letting our people through," he told Nick Ferrari.

"They are getting to the processing centre, our biggest challenge is they're letting everybody else through.

"So you see huge public order challenges for our soldiers, you've seen the distressing scenes on the telly with babies being handed over and things like that, that's a real problem.

"Our soldiers are trained to do public order, it's not a security problem, but it's very distressing and I just authorised the deployment of another company of paras to go today, into the country, to help relieve them and also augment public order."

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has suggested American forces will remain in Afghanistan until the country's evacuations are complete, even if that pushes their departure past the August 31 deadline for leaving.