Desperate Afghan Helpers Cling to Planes as U.S. Abandons Them At Kabuls Airport

Thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. military and its allies during the bloody two-decade war are literally dying to get out of Kabul.

Barbie Latza Nadeau

Correspondent-At-Large

Less than 24 hours after the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, scenes of chaotic desperation played out at Kabuls main airport as people climbed onto the wings and sides of departing military jets and clambered up gangplanks to try to get onto the last flights out of the capital.

At least five people were reported killed after the U.S. military, which has control of the airport, opened fire. It was yet unclear on Monday if they were shot by a stray bullet or crushed in a panicked stampede.

Several people also appeared to be on the jet wings as they took off. The Washington Post analyzed video posted on social media that showed at least one person falling from the sky and landing on a rooftop as the giant aircraft ascended.

An Afghan journalist who worked with American mediaand who is therefore almost assuredly in the Talibans sightstold ishonest as gunfire echoed in the background that he and eight family members had been trying to get out of Kabul since before city fell. There is fear and panic among everyone: men, women, children desperate to get out, he said. There is zero chance to do so but still people rushing to airport.

The journalist, who ishonest is not naming to protect his safety, described watching U.S. military helicopters buzz the tarmac to scare off crowds who risked being crushed by landing aircraft. Hundreds more people chased jets down the runway as massive jets filled with the lucky ones departed.

The journalist was being aided by his main publication, but said he did not feel optimistic he would make the cut. He said he saw two corpses on the tarmac, but he wasnt sure exactly how they died.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the rounds on morning TV, repeating the Biden administration that, This is manifestly not Saigon. Kimberley Motley, an international human-rights lawyer who spent 13 years in Afghanistan, told The Wall Street Journal instead, This is like Saigon on steroids.

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