Evacuation flights resumed Tuesday at Kabul’s international airport after a chaotic day in which thousands of people gathered there as diplomats and civilians tried to leave Afghanistan.
Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO’s senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, posted a photo on Twitter showing several U.S. Air Force planes on the tarmac and said he saw planes “landing and taking off.”
France’s Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said the first French military plane carrying its nationals out of Afghanistan landed overnight in the United Arab Emirates and that France was working to organize its next round of flights.
India has evacuated its embassy in Kabul with about 140 Indians, including diplomats, staff and security personnel deployed in the country returning Tuesday on board a special military flight.
The U.S. military has confirmed at least two deaths at the airport. Two gunmen fired into the crowds in two separate incidents Monday, and both were killed by U.S. forces acting on a “real and tangible threat,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
A U.S. official who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity also said reports of multiple civilian deaths during the takeoff of a U.S. military transport plane were “currently under investigation.”
U.S. President Joe Biden said he stands “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan in his first public comments since the Taliban captured Kabul.
“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he said in a nationally televised speech from the White House.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the U.N. Security Council, “The world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead.”
In a statement agreed by all 15 members, the council called for the immediate cessation of all hostilities and “the establishment, through inclusive negotiations, of a new government that is united, inclusive and representative — including with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women.”
Former U.S. President George Bush, who sent U.S. forces to Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks by al-Qaida militants, said in a statement late Monday that he and his wife, Laura, feel “deep sadness” over the unfolding events. “Our hearts are heavy for both the Afghan people who have suffered so much and for the Americans and NATO allies who have sacrificed so much,” they said.
(This story has been published from Voice of America feed without modifications to the text)