7 Afghans killed in chaos at Kabul airport

Taliban fire in the air to control crowd at the airport

KABUL: A panicked crush of people trying to enter Kabul’s international airport killed seven Afghan civilians in the crowds, the British military said on Sunday, showing the danger still posed to those trying to flee the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

On Sunday, the British military acknowledged the deaths of seven civilians in the crowds in Kabul. There have been stampedes and crushing injuries in the crowds, especially as Taliban fighters fire into the air to drive away those desperate to get on any flight out of the country.

“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Thousands rushed the airport last Monday in the chaos that saw the US try to clear off the runway with low-flying attack helicopters. Several Afghans plunged to their deaths while hanging off the side of a US military cargo plane. It’s been difficult to know the full scale of the deaths and injuries from the chaos.

The Biden administration is considering calling on US commercial airlines to provide planes and crews to assist in transporting Afghan refugees once they are evacuated from their country by military aircraft.

Under the voluntary Civil Reserve Air Fleet programme, civilian airlines add to military aircraft capability during a crisis related to national defence. That programme was born in the wake of the Berlin airlift.

The US Transportation Command said on Saturday it had issued a warning order to US carriers on Friday night on the possible activation of the programme. If called upon, commercial airlines would transport evacuees from way stations outside Afghanistan to another country or from Virginia’s Dulles International Airport to US military bases. – AP