US forces took charge of the airport to resume evacuations after flights were suspended for much of Monday, when at least five people were killed.

Afghan security guards stand on a wall as hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul
Afghan security guards stand on a wall as hundreds of people gather outside the international airport in Kabul
(AP)

Tucked away in Zahoor’s hand bag were a few clothes, basic essentials and a pair of shoes as he rushed to Afghanistan’s Kabul airport when the Taliban took over the capital city.

“I use to work with an American non-profit organization, most of the American staff members have been evacuated,” he said

“I am still here.”

Zahoor – whose last name is withheld to protect his safety – is one of the many Afghans who worked alongside the United States during its two-decade military operation in Afghanistan.

The 26-year-old feels utterly hopeless after the Taliban returned to power on Sunday as Afghan president Ashraf Ghani conceded the armed group had won and left the country. 

“I am scared for my life. All those people who have worked with the Americans either left or are hiding, including me. 

“I am worried about my family too, this is a very tough time for us.”

With an acute sense of insecurity reeling through the city, Zahoor is one of the many Afghans who is still waiting to be evacuated. 

The quick takeover of Kabul by the Taliban has delayed efforts to relocate tens of thousands of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants like Zahoor.

According to CNN, the Defense Department was asked to help the State Department with the Special Immigrant Visa program “to accelerate and help the process due to the time delays”.

Although the Taliban have sent reassuring messages that they will not harm those who worked for foreign forces, Zahoor finds it difficult to believe. 

“I don’t trust what they say. I have witnessed them in power before and I still remember how we were treated,” he said.

Evacuations restarted

On Tuesday, US military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan restarted after the runway at Kabul airport was cleared of thousands of Afghan desperate to flee.

Flights were suspended on Monday, when at least five people were killed. Two people feel to their deaths from the underside of a US military aircraft.

In a haunting video circulating online, Afghans were seen climbing and holding on to a US military plane as it was about to take off. 

Hundreds of Afghans were crammed into a US C-17 transport aircraft to fly to Qatar on Sunday, when President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan after saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed.

Italy, Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, and Norway have evacuated its nationals from the country while Denmark’s defence ministry said it had evacuated some, but a large group was still waiting to get out.

Germany and Britain said it is planning to deploy soldiers to help the evacuation of its nationals and Afghans.

‘Cannot trust the Taliban’

Syed Idrees, 32, said fear seizes him when he sees Taliban fighters on the streets of Kabul, reminding him of the Taliban rule from 1996-2001.

The armed group imposed a strict interpretation of Islam during their rule, where women could not work and girls were not allowed to attend school. Women had to cover their face and be accompanied by a male relative if they left their homes.

READ MORE: The rise of the Taliban’s number two: Mullah Baradar

“As soon as the Taliban entered Kabul, all my coworkers were gripped in fear, including me. 

“In the past, the Taliban have showed their barbarism and since I worked with government intelligence agency, I know exactly what they are capable of,” Idress told TRT World. 

“When I found out that the US government was going to take all Afghans who worked with them to America, I decided to head to the airport.”

Idrees described the chaotic scenes at the airport saying “it was near to impossible for him to exit”.

So he returned back home, waiting to hear from his American colleagues on the evacuation process.

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“I am desperate because I know they killed most of the people in Kandahar and Helmand who worked with Afghan intelligence or the military. They were taken from their homes and were killed.”

However, since the armed group has taken over they have been showing some signs of leniency in their governance compared to their previous rule. 

On Tuesday, the armed group declared an “amnesty” across the country and urged women to join its government.

“You should restart your routine life with full confidence,” Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, said representing represent the first comments on governance in Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims,” Samangani said, using the armed group’s name for Afghanistan.

But many war-weary Afghans like Zahoor are still reluctant to believe in the armed group’s promises.

“It will take a lot of time for us, and a lot of work for them to do, before we start trusting them,” Zahoor said. 

“I don’t want to risk my life or my family’s, so I want to leave. I have no choice.”

Source: TRT World





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