Wednesday, 18 May, 2022
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On the roads of Kabul, anxiety, fear, terror & gunshots a day after Taliban take control

Monday was marked by chaos at the Kabul airport, which saw thousands trying to flee without any tickets, visas and even luggage.

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Kabul: Kabul woke up to an atmosphere of anxiety, terror and uncertainty Monday as the Taliban consolidated its position a day after taking over the Afghan capital.

Taliban members took control of major parts of the capital, particularly the VIP areas, armed with automatic weapons and rocket launchers even as gunshots constantly rang out across the city.

Thousands of Afghans, desperate to flee, thronged Kabul airport, which has ceased to function, while all evacuation exercises are taking place through the technical area of the airport manned by the US forces.

Airport employees vacated the premises, and while despairing crowds took over the airport tarmac, both the domestic and international terminals wore a deserted look.

The Taliban took complete control of the airport in 8-10 armoured vehicles and even fired at the crowd that had gathered at the airport. A Reuters report said at least five people were killed in the chaos at the airport.

Their bodies were dragged out by their families while several got injured on their legs and hands.

Thousands of men had gathered outside the airport to witness the Taliban’s actions, while some planned to board a plane by just running towards the runway without a ticket or visa or any travel document, many not even with a piece of luggage.

Videos have been circulating on Twitter showing men clinging onto an US military aircraft looking to take off with American diplomatic and other personnel. The Aśvaka, an Afghanistan-based news agency, reported that according to local residents, at least three young men fell to their deaths from the aircraft as they clung to it even after it took flight.

“I have a valid visa but didn’t know where to buy the tickets from. So I left with my family to catch the first international flight out of this country,” Walid Sohail, a Kabul resident, told ThePrint. “I have daughters and I don’t know what to do.”

His family, like many others, didn’t make it out.


Also read: ‘Our advice to Taliban is avoid urban warfare’: Afghan ex-PM Hekmatyar blames Ghani for crisis


Taliban takes over city

On Monday, hotels, offices and businesses were raided or checked by groups of Taliban members seeking to assert their authority.

Armed civilians, who Sunday were ready to fight the Taliban with their old Kalashnikovs, vanished by Monday even as their houses were taken over by Taliban fighters.

Posh apartments, where some government officials lived in Kabul’s Shahr-e Naw area, were also taken over by the Taliban.

In the city’s Green Zone area, or the VIP area, the Taliban has cut off access to the outside world. Those entering the main gates of the zone to visit embassies are being turned back. “There are no embassies here anymore and you don’t have permission to enter,” is the common refrain at the checkpoints.

There are checkpoints at every two metres on the roads while the Taliban fighters peep through car windows to check. Women are not allowed to speak or use their mobile phones when they are checking the cars.

In just a matter of just seven days this city has gone from one harbouring hope to one witnessing scenes of apocalypse.

“I used to work as a beautician. I am a beautician trainer. But now my life is soon going to be a hell,” Zuleika, who works at a beauty parlour in Kabul, told ThePrint. “The government didn’t do anything, it was a corrupt government and now these Talibs will take away even my job. They can kill me anytime if I work.”

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)


Also read: Afghanistan urges world to act against Taliban ‘war crimes’, says ‘global security’ at stake


 

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