Chaos erupted at the Kabul Airport on Monday morning once news had broken that the Taliban had swiftly taken back the country over night. In the panic, thousands of Afghans rushed to catch a flight with hopes of evacuating Afghanistan. There have been unconfirmed reports of at least three bodies falling from aircrafts as they were taking off.
Over the course of just a few hours, and with barely any shots fired, the Taliban had managed to dispatch the security force surrounding the presidential palace on Sunday. President Ashraf Ghani later fled the country, marking a major victory for the insurgent Taliban fighters.
To combat further disaster, U.S. troops had commandeered the Kabul airport in the hopes of safely airlifting passengers out of Kabul. Two incidents have been reported in which U.S. troops shot and killed armed men approaching them, but the Military has yet to identify them or confirm the assailants as members of the Talibans.
U.S. officials on the ground have stated that the troops have the right to defend themselves from the Taliban at the Kabul Airport, and are authorized to use lethal force if necessary should anyone interfere with their operations.
Images and videos shared on social media from Kabul show hundreds of Afghans clinging to aircrafts as they make their way across the tarmac, with people desperate to flee flooding the walkways and airbridges connected to the military jets.
Many Afghan women were reportedly ducking inside buildings and trying to flee the capitol after the Taliban takeover, in fear that the new regime would return the country to the strict conditions of their rule from 20 years prior. During the previous Taliban control of Afghanistan, women were banned from traveling outside of the home without a male escort. Now some women who sit in Afghanistan’s Parliament are scared of what will become of them, and the government, following the Taliban’s latest takeover.
It remains unconfirmed at this time how many have been injured at the Kabul Airport, with various videos reported by CNN showing several bodies being run over by ascending aircrafts, as well as a helicopter piloted by the U.S. military swooping very low to the ground in an attempt to disperse some of the crowd.
Speaking to CNN Monday morning, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen assured terrified Afghans rushing to be airlifted out of Afghanistan at the Kabul airport that they, “should not be terrified.”
There will be “no danger to their property, honor and life,” Shaheen continued. “That is our commitment.”
When questioned about the treatment of women under Taliban rule, Shaheen said that women, “will be going to schools, as teachers, as students. So you will see it. In a few days. That is my expectation.”
Despite the attitude of Shaheen and the Taliban, many Afghans remain in doubt, especially as the Taliban quickly set up checkpoints surrounding the city.
“Checkpoints are for the security of the people,” Shaheen told CNN. “These checkpoints have not been set up to harass people.”
To aid the United States, Canada’s military has remained on the ground in Kabul. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that they are, “working very closely with the United States, the U.K. and other allies to establish ways in which we are going to be able to get more and more people out of Afghanistan in the coming weeks.”
President Joe Biden addressed the nation at 3:45pm on Monday to deliver his remarks on the chaos in Afghanistan.