At least five people reportedly dead, as aviation authorities announce suspension of commercial flight operations ‘until further notice’
The Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Monday was swarmed by thousands of Afghans attempting to secure passage out of an Afghanistan under control of the Taliban, resulting in the deaths of at least five people.
On Sunday, the Taliban overthrew the elected government in Kabul, with former president Ashraf Ghani tendering his resignation and fleeing to an undisclosed location. The group has since declared that it would not implement any kind of transitional government. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, posted on Twitter that fighters had been directed to not enter any home without permission and to protect life, property and honor. Despite this, there is great fear among journalists, liberals and government and military employees who expect the Taliban to retaliate against them.
On Monday, hundreds reportedly tried to forcibly enter planes leaving the Afghan capital, leading to the deaths of at least five people. According to the Reuters news agency, it was not immediately clear whether the victims had been killed by gunshots or by a stampede. U.S. soldiers had earlier fired warning shots at the crowd, as they sought to manage the ongoing chaotic evacuation of foreign personnel. According to the BBC, the U.S. troops had been deployed to secure the site and take over air traffic control for the benefit of American and allied forces’ staff.
A video that has gone viral on social media showed crowds running alongside a taxiing U.S. Air Force aircraft, with some men clinging onto the door even as it took off. An-as-yet-unconfirmed video subsequently showed what appeared to be a body falling off the plane as it continued its ascent.
Amidst the chaos, all commercial flights have been suspended at the Kabul airport “until further notice,” according to a statement by the airport authority. Only military aircraft have been allowed to utilize the airspace over the city.