Gunfire and barbed wire prevent Afghans from reaching Kabul airport

As evacuations from Afghanistan continue, Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport has remained a scene of chaos and thousands of people are still waiting to board a flight out of the country. The videos show crowds of people outside the airport as gunshots echo in the background. Our observer, an Afghan student, witnessed the desperate scene at one of the airport gates as men, women and children tried to break through military perimeters.

Four days after the Taliban captured the Afghan capital, Kabul, military evacuations from Afghanistan have intensified. The Taliban have said they are facilitating the safe exit of foreigners and Afghans, but access to Hamid Karzai International Airport has proven difficult, posing significant security concerns for those trying to flee.

A video posted on Snapchat on August 19, 2021 shows a Taliban checkpoint outside the Kabul airport.

A video provided to Jowharobservers on August 19, 2021 shows thousands of people outside the Kabul airport as gunshots are heard in the background.

At least 12 people have died at the airport since Sunday, NATO officials said. A Taliban official told Reuters that the deaths were caused by gunfire or stampedes, adding that people should go home if they do not have the right to travel.

Some Taliban officials have prevented people in Kabul from reaching the airport, witnesses say, even if they have the proper travel documents. According to our Observer, who was at the airport in the morning, Afghan security forces and American soldiers have been firing warning shots.

Videos shared online show the chaos outside the airport gates.

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– 🌟setare❣☞⒭⒠⒮⒯⒜⒭⒯❤ (@ VBWdEE0Ohvu3Yw2) August 19, 2021 A video posted to Twitter on August 19, 2021 shows hundreds of people near Kabul airport sheltering in ditches as shots echo background.

Haunting scene; this happens almost a few times a day on different sides of the Kabul airport. # kabulairport # Afghanistan # Afghan women pic.twitter.com/lGfRzPPvS3

– Aisha Ahmad (@AishaTaIks) August 19, 2021 A video posted to Twitter on August 19, 2021 shows people covering themselves as members of the Afghan security forces, who are still collaborating with the US military to control the airport and carry weapons. Gunshots are heard in the background. Brothers, please step away from the barbed wire. We can’t let you in ‘

Mahmoud (not his real name), an Afghan university student, went to the airport on Thursday in hopes of boarding a flight. He fears that the Taliban may attack him because he has participated in exchanges with American universities.

He had a ticket for a commercial flight that was supposed to leave Kabul today. I called the airline yesterday and they said flights would resume on Thursday. I went to the airport around 8 am. There were Taliban checkpoints along the way. They asked me where I was going and I told them to the airport. They did not ask to see any documents. There were no checkpoints on the airport road.

When I got to the main entrance of the airport, the door was closed and there were Taliban fighters. They told me to leave and go to the entrance on the military side of the airport, 2 or 3 km from the main gate.

When I got to that entrance, I saw American troops and Afghan special forces. The Americans let three to four people in at a time, lifting the barbed wire to let them pass. If it were a family, they would let all the family members in.

A video that Mahmoud provided to Jowharobservers shows a crowd of Afghans outside a barbed wire barrier at Kabul airport. Afghan troops (in darker uniforms, right) and US troops (lighter uniforms, left) are within the perimeter. Shots are heard and a soldier says in Dari: “Brothers, please step away from the barbed wire. We can’t let you in, please get out. ”

There were many Afghans there, hoping to get in. It was very chaotic. Most of them did not have the proper documents, no passports or tickets. Some people had electricity bills. And some people had fake visas. People said that yesterday the US troops let in people with false visas.

American troops repeatedly told people to stay behind. There were announcements in English, Pashtun and Dari, but no one paid attention. Men, women and children were caught in the barbed wire. I saw people bleeding, with torn clothes.

I saw American troops fire warning shots, firing their guns into the air just above our heads. Afghan troops also fired warning shots. The US troops used ‘bombs’ with a bright flash and a loud noise, then smoke that suffocates you. I could not see.

I don’t know what I’m going to do now. Even if commercial flights resume tomorrow, I will not return to the airport if the situation remains the same. It’s very dangerous.

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