US warns Americans to stay away from Kabul airport as death toll rises to at least 12

Four women have died amid the heat and crowds of people

Kim Sengupta,Lamiat Sabin
Saturday 21 August 2021 18:59
<p>Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul in a desperate bid to leave the country </p>

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul in a desperate bid to leave the country

The US has issued a warning to its citizens not to travel to Kabul airport in Afghanistan without specific instructions because of security threats.

A US official has said that potential Isis threats against Americans in Afghanistan are forcing the US military to develop new ways to get evacuees to the airport.

Small groups of Americans and possibly other civilians will be given specific instructions on what to do, including movement to transit points where they can be gathered up by the military.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations.

The warning comes after a number of deaths occurred in the vicinity of the airport amid fears that the evacuation flights would be coming to an end.

Four people have been killed by the heat and a crowd crush outside the British base adjacent to the airport in Kabul this morning in Afghanistan, The Independent can report.

The victims, who were all women trying to flee the country with their families after the Taliban’s takeover, died despite the efforts of British soldiers from the Parachute Regiment to save them.

One of the women was a mother of three children whose husband had to be consoled by soldiers in his grief.

Another woman collapsed and died, followed by a younger woman who may have been a daughter of the first victim. Their bereaved relative, believed to be their husband and father, fainted when he heard that they had died.

A fourth woman also lost her life amid the crush of the crowd and suffocating heat.

The bodies were then wrapped and placed across the road for collection by the families.

A young girl, around eight years old and with a hand missing due to an IED explosion, had lifted one of the shrouds and fainted when finding that the body was that of her mother, whom she had been searching for.

There were claims that more bodies were found beyond the barriers put up by the troops, past a Taliban checkpoint.

The death toll at the airport, according to Taliban officials, has reached 12 since last Sunday when the Islamist group seized the capital, but the actual figure is believed to be a lot higher.

The US has evacuated about 17,000 people from Kabul in the past week, including 2,500 Americans, Major General William Taylor said at the Pentagon.

It comes after President Joe Biden suggested that rescue missions must be completed within 10 days as the deadline for evacuation of all troops is scheduled for 31 August.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby has said that the situation at Kabul airport remains “fluid and dynamic” as people continue to crowd at the airport, and that the threat in Afghanistan “can change by the hour”.

He said he did not have a “perfect figure” on how many Americans remain in Kabul and Afghanistan more broadly.

A Taliban official has claimed that the group is “aiming to improve the situation and provide a smooth exit” at the airport over the weekend.

While chaos continued at the airport, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the founders of the Taliban, arrived in Kabul to help organise a new government.

He will meet military commanders, religious scholars and former government leaders in formulating a new constitution, said officials of the group. 

Mr Baradar, who is also the head of the group’s political office in Doha, arrived in the city of Kandahar on Tuesday – two days after the militants seized control of Kabul.

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