Taliban & Afghanistan: Three Killed in Gunfire at Kabul Airport as Afghans Try to Flee

People try to get into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

At least three people were shot and killed Monday morning as chaos unfolded at the passenger terminal of Kabul’s airport as thousands of Afghans attempted to evacuate the country and escape the Taliban.

Witnesses reported seeing bodies lying on the ground just outside the terminal building, according to the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, an eyewitness reportedly told Reuters there were at least five dead, though it was not clear if they died from gunfire or a stampede. 

The U.S. military handled security at the airport to allow a “massive airlift of foreign diplomats and citizens,” according to the Journal, after the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday as Taliban militants entered the capital city of Kabul, signaling the official collapse of the government.

The State Department announced early Monday that all of its embassy staff had reached the airport and were awaiting evacuations.

As thousands of Afghans rushed the airport on Sunday, U.S. Marines fired warning shots when hundreds of people who breached the perimeter attempted to board an idling C-17 transport aircraft, a Western military official told the outlet.

The U.S. military attempted to disperse crowds using two low-flying military helicopters, smoke grenades and firing shots into the air, according to witnesses. Hundreds of Afghans stayed close to the runway and around parked planes, some so desperate to escape that they were seen hanging from boarding ramps in an attempt to board the aircraft.

All commercial flights out of the capital were suspended Monday morning.

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