Photographs, youngsters crying, as Afghans flee the Taliban
A video of the tense, chaotic scene outside Kabul airport shows fighters shooting into the air over an overcrowded crowd on Thursday, in some cases lowering their rifles to shoulder level as frightened people disperse.
The harrowing video, reviewed by USA TODAY, raises concern over the use of force against thousands of civilians who flocked to the airport in the Afghan capital to flee the Taliban takeover in desperation and to escape to safety .
It’s not clear if someone was injured or killed in the moments the video was shot. In various places, adults rock small, crying children and crouch over them in protective positions as gunfire erupts and crackles through the air around them.
One or two gunmen with their guns lowered appear to have fired them, but that’s hard to tell with certainty in the shaky video. It is also unclear whether they were pointing directly at someone or just above their heads or at empty spots in the fleeing crowd. It is also unclear who is firing the weapons – whether the Taliban, Afghan armed forces or others. The video shows people in different uniforms and with different weapons.
Kabul Airport has been in disarray since the country fell to the Taliban.
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Concrete barriers surround the airport as thousands of Americans, Afghan allies and other foreigners spend hours trying to get through the crushing crowds and Taliban checkpoints. People beg Afghan security forces to check their travel documents and let them through; these requests often fail.
When asked for comment, a State Department spokesman said: “We take all such reports extremely seriously.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Thursday that the US “is always looking at the security environment and threats and balancing all these things,” but stressed that the goal is “to get so many people to safety as we”. possibly can. ”
President Joe Biden vowed on Friday to evacuate any American who wants to leave the country.
More:Updates from Afghanistan: Biden tells Americans that we will take you home when evacuation flights resume
“Let me make it clear that any American who wants to come will be brought home,” he said during a statement at the White House.
Around 13,000 people have been evacuated from the country since Saturday, added Biden.
Biden admitted that evacuation flights from Kabul were briefly suspended for “a few hours” on Friday morning due to delays in processing, but said the commander of the US armed forces had ordered the resumption of flights.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby admitted to reporters on Friday that there had been “sporadic reports” of harassment of civilians at Taliban checkpoints.
US troops marched outside the airport and walked back a short distance on the final day to escort 169 civilians through the gate.
“It’s a very fluid situation,” said Kirby on Thursday.
More:Chaos at Kabul Airport raises questions about US evacuation efforts
The Associated Press contributed to the coverage.