New Delhi: The Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan today ended in gloomy scenes at the Kabul airport, with thousands of Afghans taking to the streets hoping to get out of the country. The news agency Reuters reported that five people died at the airport.
There were reports of sporadic gunfire at the airport. Earlier this morning, US troops did fire in the air in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Several large cargo aircraft of the US Air Force are still parked at Kabul airport.
The Afghan airspace has been closed and a NOTAM or notice to airmen has been issued to say Kabul airspace is no longer usable. An Air India aircraft tasked to fly to Afghanistan to bring out people will no longer be able to go there, sources have told NDTV.
Air India flights coming from the US have been re-routed since the Afghan airspace has been closed, sources said. Flights AI-126 (Chicago-New Delhi) and AI-174 (San Francisco-New Delhi) will have to re-routed to a Gulf nation to refuel, they said, adding Air India is also working on new routes for flights that will depart later from India to the US.
Taliban terrorists with rifles slung over their shoulders were seen walking today through the streets of the Green Zone, the formerly heavily fortified district that houses most embassies and international organisations.
The Taliban sought to reassure the international community that Afghans should not fear them, and they will not take revenge against those who supported the US-backed alliance. “Now it’s time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life,” Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar said in a post on social media.
But today’s desperate scenes at Kabul airport clearly shows people are worried about their safety after the Taliban takeover. “We are afraid to live in this city,” a 25-year-old ex-soldier told news agency AFP as he stood among huge crowds on the tarmac. “Since I served in the army, the Taliban would definitely target me.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres asked the Taliban and all parties to “exercise restraint” and said the rights of women and girls, who suffered under the previous Taliban regime, must be protected.
The US government has insisted in recent days that its two decades of war in Afghanistan was a success, defined by quashing the Al-Qaeda threat. President Joe Biden also said he was determined there was no choice but to withdraw American troops, as he would not “pass this war” onto another President.
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and acknowledged that the militants had won the 20-year war. The surprisingly quick collapse of the government with terrorists taking over the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday night created fear and panic in Kabul.