Afghanistan: Taliban fire gunshots into night sky to celebrate final US withdrawal

31 August 2021, 13:25

The Taliban celebrated the final withdrawal of US forces
The Taliban celebrated the final withdrawal of US forces. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The Taliban fired weapons into the night sky to mark the final departure of US troops.

The militant group has seized control of Afghanistan after being deposed from power by America and US-backed forces in 2001.

Gunfire lit up the Kabul skyline as the new regime’s fighters celebrated the departure of the same military that overthrew them.

They waged a bloody insurgency against international troops and fought the globally-recognised government in a two-decade long campaign.

And despite the equipment and training on hand to the Afghan army, it crumbled in as Taliban militants swept across the country, leaving just Kabul airport under international control.

Read more: Raab: 'Low hundreds of Brits still in Afghanistan but UK will live up to commitments'

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Taliban celebrate full control of Kabul with gunfire

But with US forces having now left the airport, the Taliban took little time in declaring the withdrawal a victory.

“The last American occupier withdrew from (Kabul Airport) at 12 o'clock and our country gained its full independence, praise and gratitude be to God,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

Footage shows bullet tracers fire out over the Afghan capital and Taliban leaders symbolically walked along Kabul airport, where more than 100,000 people have been evacuated from the new regime’s rule, to celebrate.

One Afghan, who is not being named to protect his security, told the PA news agency the Taliban were shooting into the sky until 3.30am.

"Firing began when US last airplane took off from airport... we didn't (sleep) because of gunshots," he said.

Taliban take control of Kabul Airport

People in Kabul are already suffering from money, food and medicine shortages amid shop closures and border restrictions, he said.

"Some of them (are) selling their house items to get some food or medicines for his or her family," he added.

It is inaccurate to suggest the Taliban’s joy is replicated throughout Afghanistan’s ordinary citizens.

People who had hoped to be evacuated remain stuck there, including a number of Brits – estimated to be in the low hundreds by foreign secretary Dominic Raab.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Mr Raab said: "In terms of British nationals the number is in the low hundreds, we got 5,000 out."

Many of the remaining cases were "difficult, complicated" ones with undocumented individuals, or families where one member may not be eligible, he said.

He added the Government was now working with countries next to Afghanistan on a "workable route through" for UK nationals to flee the Taliban.