U.S. forces fired in air at Kabul's airport on Monday as thousands of panicking Afghani civilians rushed on to the tarmac to catch a flight out of the country after the Taliban regime took over control of the war-torn country a day earlier. Videos of civilians running curelessly and in panic following the firing has since made their way to the social media.
Although the firing was done only to disperse the crown on the tarmac, the action is being called insensitive given that the civilians are already living in fear and don't know about their future with both President Ashraf Ghani and his deputy, Vice-President Amarullah Saleh, having left Afghanistan earlier on Sunday.
The US Embassy said the capital's airport, where diplomats, officials, and other Afghans had fled, had come under fire. According to Reuters, a part of the remaining U.S. troops in Kabul fired in air to defuse civilians who barged into the airport and started waiting for flights on the tarmac. "The crowd was out of control," an official told Reuters by phone. "The firing was only done to defuse the chaos."
U.S. troops are in charge at the airport, helping in the evacuation of embassy staff and other civilians but their action has now further created panic among helpless civilians. The flights right now available at Kabul airport are all military flights, with many countries having temporarily suspended flying civilian aircrafts over Afghanistan's airspace since late Sunday.
Hundreds of Afghans, some of them government ministers and government employees and also other civilians including many women and children, crowded in the terminal desperately waiting for flights out. "The airport is out of control... the (Afghan) government just sold us out," said an official at the scene who declined to be named for security reasons.
World Watches Helplessly
The United States has said that it would deploy as many as 6,000 of its troops at the Kabul airport to ensure safe departure of its citizens and those from its friends and allies from Afghanistan. However, the firing has been severely criticized in this situation, when most believe will add to the chaos and panic among the civilians.
More than 60 countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Qatar and the UK, have issued a joint statement announcing that Afghans and other international citizens who want to leave Afghanistan should immediately be allowed to move out. They also added that airports and border crossings must remain open.
However, it won't be that easy given that the country doesn't have a government now and the diplomats are the first ones to evacuate Afghanistan, leaving behind thousands of civilians at the mercy of the Taliban.