International

7 reported dead amid chaos at Kabul airport as desperate Afghans try to flee


Wrenching scenes unfolded Monday at Kabul’s airport as thousands of Afghans desperate to flee their Taliban-conquered homeland clambered over barriers and thronged the tarmac, with some even clinging to the side of a U.S. military transport plane before falling away. At least seven people were reported to have died in the chaos.

The American military has taken control of the evacuation of diplomatic staff and allies, which has turned into a harrowing capstone on the two-decade U.S. military mission. But the deadly tumult left the airlift effort in crisis. All flights, civilian and military, were suspended until the runway was secured, but Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said later that airport operations had resumed.

Seven people were killed in the airport vicinity, the Associated Press reported, and Kirby confirmed that two “armed Afghans” were killed by U.S. forces. The Taliban controls all land crossings out of the country, and for now, the capital’s airport is the only evacuation route.

The horrific airport images — videos of men running alongside the taxiing C-17 Air Force plane and scrambling to grab its exterior, and subsequently at least two falling bodies visible after the craft was airborne — drew shock and dismay from around the world. President Biden called the images “gut-wrenching” but said he stood by his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.