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Afghanistan: Runways clear as Kabul evacuation resumes


The runway at Kabul’s airport is free for take-off and landing again on Tuesday after a day of confusion and crowds amid the Taliban takeover.

NATO’s representative in Afghanistan, Stefano Pontecorvo tweet and was sure that evacuation efforts can resume.

“I see aeroplanes landing and taking off,’’ wrote Pontecorvo on his Twitter feed.

Flights had to be suspended on Monday amid chaos at the airport.

Masses of people have crowded the airport, which they saw as the only way to escape Afghanistan after Taliban forces took effective control of the country on Sunday.

The crowds which included embassy staff, local hires, foreign nationals and many who simply fear that the Taliban will impose a repressive Islamist rule spilled out onto the runways on Monday.

The crowd made any plane that landed and making arrivals and departures impossible.

Images circulated online of planes full of Afghan refugees taking off after officials decided not to try to keep them out.

There were also reports of people fallen to their deaths after they lost their grips while clinging to the outside of departing planes.

But U.S. forces, which still control parts of the airport, were seeking to maintain order.

Both local U.S. representatives and U.S. President Joe Biden had warned of repercussions if the U.S. forces at the airport were targeted.

The Taliban ruled the bulk of Afghanistan for about five years at the end of the 20th century.

During that time, they enforced a strictly Islamist society, which meant most women were banned from public life and men could be punished for not displaying enough piety.

Perceived vices such as alcohol and Western music were banned.

Although the Taliban said they would not be as strict after routing the Western-backed government in a lightning series of offensives in the last two weeks, few believed them and were not willing to take their chances under a renewed Taliban regime.

Some Western governments had vowed to try to bring home interpreters and other Afghan locals who have helped them.

“It is not clear if there is enough time or space to get them all out. Many people at the airport have no papers, so it’s impossible to tell most people’s status.’’

Furthermore, it’s impossible to tell if people seeking evacuation would be able to reach the airport.

CNN broadcast images of Taliban fighters setting up a perimeter around the airport, allegedly only allowing through people with valid travel documents.

According to the report, people are still trying to force their way in but Taliban forces are working to push them back.

Multiple countries were seeking to pull out their nationals amid the uncertainty, though the chaos at the airport was making that difficult.

A German plane had to depart with only seven evacuees because of the breakdown in security.

India evacuated its embassy in Kabul early on Tuesday with an Indian Air Force flight carrying 140 Indians, including the ambassador along with staff members and paramilitary guards, the state-run broadcaster Doordarshan reported.

Other countries were petitioning neighbours to try and help get their nationals out. Nepal has written to several governments for aid in evacuating its citizens, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Around 1,500 Nepalis work in western missions and UN agencies, especially as security guards in western embassies in Kabul and UN bodies, with an unknown number working in other parts of Afghanistan, the government said.


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