Senior US military officials say the chaos at the Kabul airport this morning left seven people dead, including some who fell from a departing American military transport jet.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss ongoing operations.
Afghans rushed onto the tarmac of the capital’s airport on Monday as thousands tried to flee the country after the Taliban seized power with stunning speed. Some clung to the side of a US military plane before takeoff, in a widely shared video that captured the sense of desperation as America’s 20-year war comes to a chaotic end.
Another video showed the Afghans falling as the plane gained altitude over Kabul.
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.
Watch: Afghan citizens trying to flee the country cling on to a US Air Force plane as it takes off from #Kabul airport amid the #Taliban takeover. #Afghanistan https://t.co/2vc7iuFmgj pic.twitter.com/sO0ltaUeqw— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) August 16, 2021
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.