U.S. Evacuation Flights Out of Kabul Temporarily Halted amid Tarmac Chaos

People try to get into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

All U.S. evacuation flights from Kabul’s international airport have been temporarily suspended, the result of hundreds of Afghans flooding the tarmac on Monday, desperate to evacuate the country and escape the Taliban, according to reports.

A U.S. official reportedly told Fox News that the runway is “not secure” after hundreds of people “breached” the airport walls and filled the runway. All U.S. military and charter flights are suspended until the runway can be cleared.

Seven people died in the chaos, according to the Associated Press.

Amid the pandemonium, U.S. troops shot and killed two armed men at the airport after the men approached American troops deployed to the airport to facilitate the evacuation of Americans and other individuals, a U.S. official reportedly told the Wall Street Journal

The report adds that at least three Afghans who clung to the side of an Air Force jet evacuating personnel from the airport were run over and killed on Monday as chaos unfolded at the passenger terminal of Kabul’s airport as thousands of Afghans swarmed the airport hoping to escape the country.

Witnesses also reported seeing three bloodied bodies lying on the ground just outside the terminal building, according to the paper. 

The U.S. military handled security at the airport to allow a “massive airlift of foreign diplomats and citizens,” according to the Journal, after the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday as Taliban militants entered the capital city of Kabul, signaling the official collapse of the government.

The State Department announced earlier on Monday that all of its embassy staff had reached the airport and were awaiting evacuations.

As thousands of Afghans rushed the airport on Sunday, U.S. Marines fired warning shots when hundreds of people who breached the perimeter attempted to board an idling C-17 transport aircraft, a Western military official told the outlet.

The U.S. military attempted to disperse crowds using two low-flying military helicopters, smoke grenades and firing shots into the air, according to witnesses. Hundreds of Afghans stayed close to the runway and around parked planes, some so desperate to escape that they were seen hanging from boarding ramps in an attempt to board the aircraft.

All commercial flights out of the capital were suspended Monday morning.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Fall of Afghanistan

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