Taliban militants fired at more Afghans on Thursday and several people were killed either by shootings or ensuing stampedes in the streets near the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and in the city of Asadabad in the Kunar province.
A Twitter user shared a video showing armed militants outside the Kabul airport, firing their weapons into the air and setting off a stampeding in which several people, including the camera operator, fall to the ground. “#Afghanistan under the control of the #Taliban. #Kabul airport. Where is the human rights?”
Reuters reported that Kabul has been generally calm, but 12 people have been killed in and around the airport amid chaotic scenes, a NATO and a Taliban official both said. The Taliban official told Reuters the deaths were either caused either by gunshots or stampedes.
Gunmen fired into the air on Thursday at several entrances, scattering crowds including women clutching babies. Reuters reported it was not clear if the men firing were Taliban militants or security staff helping U.S. forces inside the airport.
There have been reports of people being stopped and even beaten at Taliban checkpoints around the Kabul Airport. On Wednesday, Pentagon officials admitted evacuations of Americans from Afghanistan are reliant on the Taliban allowing people to get through to the Kabul airport.
Natalie Amiri, a reporter for Germany’s Das Erste news station, tweeted, “Location at the airport in #Kabul escalates more and more ..#Taliban ask all people without a travel permit to leave the airport. There is shooting. Video was sent to me #Afghanistan.”
Task & Purpose reporter Jeff Schogol tweeted video of another shooting near the Kabul airport entrance. “An Afghan man sent me this video which he said was raked outside Kabul airport today. How are Americans and Afghans supposed to get through this?”
Several people were also killed during a protest in Asadabad, but it was also unclear if the casualties directly resulted from the Taliban shooting or from a stampede that it triggered.
Mohammed Salim, a witness at the protests in Asadabad on Thursday, told Reuters, “Several people were killed and injured in the stampede and firing by the Taliban.”
The Thursday shooting incident comes a day after as many as three protesters were shot and killed and a dozen more were injured in Jalalabad, when Taliban militants fired on people flying the Afghan national flag in protest of the recent Taliban takeover of the country.
WTOP journalist Alejandro Alvarez tweeted, “Street demos in at least two Afghan cities, Jalalabad and Asadabad, where videos show protesters pulling down the Taliban’s white flag and replacing it with Afghanistan’s national flag.
Salim also told Reuters, “Hundreds of people came out on the streets. At first, I was scared and didn’t want to go but when I saw one of my neighbors joined in, I took out the flag I have at home.”
Jordan Bryon, a filmmaker living in Afghanistan, tweeted, “Independence day protest in #kabul. Women and girls, men and boys screaming LONG LIVE #Afghanistan OUR NATIONAL FLAG IS OUR IDENTITY! They marched past #Taliban with some Talibs screaming back at protestors, waving their guns at them but finally the protestors passed.
“One angry Talib was about to shoot a protestor when another Talib grabbed his gun and stopped him. #Afghanistan,” Bryon added.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Ahmad Massoud — the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan — wrote that he is leading a resistance to the Taliban in the Panjshir Province. The province is one of the few remaining holdouts against the Taliban’s near-total control of Afghanistan.