At least five people have been killed at Kabul airport as hundreds of people desperate to get out of the country tried to forcibly enter planes, witnesses told Reuters.
All commercial flights have been cancelled from Hamid Karzai International Airport after the chaos that ensued as Afghans and foreigners tried to flee Afghanistan as Taliban fighters took over.
One witness said he had seen the bodies of five people being taken to a vehicle, while another witness said it was not clear whether the victims were killed by gunshots or in a stampede.
Officials were not immediately available to comment on the deaths.
The developments came a day after Afghanistan’s capital fell to the Taliban.
“It was unclear how the people were killed. We do not know who has been shooting at the airport. It may have been airport staff trying to control the crowds or Taliban forces,” Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis, reporting from Kabul, said.
“But people have died in this panic. Outside of that [the airport], things have been relatively smooth. The streets are very quiet,” she said.
The Al Jazeera correspondent said: “Scenes of utter chaos at the airport started last night [Sunday]”.
“Thousands of people trying to get into the airport. They essentially overran the airport after they clambered on the tarmac.”
‘Out of control’
US troops, who oversee the airport, earlier fired in the air to scatter the crowd and prevent hundreds of civilians running onto the tarmac, a US official said.
“The crowd was out of control,” the official told Reuters by phone. “The firing was only done to defuse the chaos.”
US troops are in charge at the airport, helping in the evacuation of embassy staff and other civilians.
— Jawad Sukhanyar (@JawadSukhanyar) August 16, 2021
Commercial flights cancelled
The media office of Hamid Karzai International said in a statement that all civilian flights from the airport had been suspended.
The statement called on citizens not to “invade the square” and to “prevent looting”.
The Taliban, for their part, urged people gathered at the airport to “go home”, as Taliban leaders at the site announced that “civilians will not be harmed.”
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter that the group has ordered its fighters not to enter homes without permission.
“Life, property and honor of none shall be harmed but must be protected by the Mujahedeen,” he said.