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    Kabul airport plunges into chaos as Taliban patrols capital


    Kabul, Afghanistan — Thousands of Afghans rushed into Kabul’s main airport Monday, some so desperate to escape the Taliban that they held onto a military jet as it took off and plunged to their deaths. At least seven people died in the chaos, U.S. officials said, as America’s longest war ended with its enemy the victor.

    The crowds came while the Taliban enforced their rule over the capital of 5 million people after a lightning advance across the country that took just over a week to dethrone the country’s Western-backed government. There were no major reports of abuses or fighting, but many residents stayed home and remained fearful after the insurgents’ advance saw prisons emptied and armories looted.

    Across the nation, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that thousands had been wounded in fighting. Elsewhere, security forces and politicians handed over their provinces and bases without a fight, likely believing the two-decade Western experiment to remake Afghanistan would not survival the resurgent Taliban. The last American troops had planned to withdraw at the end of the month.

    “The world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead,” warned United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

    As the U.S. military and others continued evacuation flights, Afghans swarmed over the international airport’s tarmac. Some climbed into aircraft parked on the taxiway, while others dangled precariously off a jet bridge.

    U.S. troops took positions to guard the active runway, but the crowd stormed past them and their armored vehicles. Gunshots rang out. As one U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III tried to take off, a helicopter did low runs in front of it to try to drive people off the runway.

    Videos showed a group of Afghans hanging onto the plane just before takeoff and several falling through the air as the airplane rapidly gained altitude over the city.

    Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane, some climbing on the plane, as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug.16. 2021.

    More:Costs of the Afghanistan war, in lives and dollars

    More: Biden’s ‘America’s Back’ vow torched as Taliban storm Kabul

    More: UK’s defense chief holds back tears amid Afghanistan chaos

    More: US official: Top commander talks with Taliban on evacuation

    More: Russian embassy: Afghan leader fled with cars full of cash

    Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021.

    Senior American military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing operation, told The Associated Press that the chaos left seven dead, including several who fell from the flight. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said U.S. forces killed two people he described as carrying weapons in the melee. He said 1,000 more U.S. troops would be deployed to secure the airfield and back up the 2,500 already there.

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