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US halts Kabul evacuation flights to clear airfield amid Taliban takeover: Official

Published: Updated:

The US has temporarily halted all evacuation flights from Kabul to clear people who had converged on the airfield, a US defense official told Reuters on Monday.

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The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, did not say how long the pause would last.

Earlier in the day, at least five people were killed at Kabul’s airport as Afghans raced to flee the country while the Taliban consolidated its grip on the country, according to witnesses cited by Reuters.

One witness said he had seen the bodies of five people being taken to a vehicle. Another witness said it was not clear whether the victims were killed by gunshots or in a stampede.

A US official told Reuters earlier that forces fired in the air at the airport to prevent hundreds of civilians running onto the tarmac.

“The crowd was out of control,” the official told Reuters by phone. “The firing was only done to defuse the chaos.”

Hundreds of Afghans have jammed the airport trying to get out of the country after Taliban insurgents entered the capital on Sunday.

US troops are in charge at the airport, helping in the evacuation of embassy staff and other civilians.

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