Through Monday US troops scrambled to secure Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as thousands of desperate civilians swarmed the runways, with reports of looting in the terminal and general chaos resulting in some tragically plunging to their deaths after clinging to the underbody of a C-17 as it took off.
“Worse than Saigon” – some are now saying of the deteriorating situation as it seems by the minute more and more shocking images emerge. A riot control situation is now giving way to reports of combat engagements at the airport: “US troops shot and killed two armed men at Kabul’s international airport, according to a US official,” The Wall Street Journal writes in a breaking report.
“The armed men, who numbered at least two, approached US troops deployed to the airport to provide security and assist Americans and other individuals in a safe departure from Afghanistan, the official said.”
“Few details were available about how things transpired between the U.S. troops and the armed men, who weren’t identified,” the report noted. Earlier US Marines were seen firing warning shots in the air in attempts to disperse the throngs.
This puts the death toll amid the airport mayhem to at least five – with three bodies being reported earlier found on the ground outside the main terminal building, likely the result of attempting to crawl onto departing aircraft.
It’s as yet uncertain whether the slain armed men were Taliban or belonged to another faction – or possibly were armed civilians desperately trying to fight their way aboard a departing aircraft.
An Apache appears to be doing crowd control to clear the runway for a C-17 military transport aircraft at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, as hundreds of people are trying to get on flights out of Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/UzuMqiNjKc
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) August 16, 2021
Earlier a Reuters correspondent reported that airport operations had been temporarily halted by US troops as they attempted to clear the runways. An Apache helicopter at one point was even seen doing low strafing runs to disperse large crowds which were blocking departing aircraft.