Kabul moment: Desperate Afghans falling off mid-air from US plane - images to haunt America for decades

The defining moment of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan will be the scenes of the hundreds of desperate Afghans, chasing American military planes on the airport’s runways in Kabul, with some people hanging on the planes’ wings desperately and dangerously

Shraddha Nand Bhatnagar Aug 16, 2021
Video file

The defining moment of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan will be the scenes of the hundreds of desperate Afghans, chasing American military planes on the airport’s runways in Kabul, with some people hanging on the planes’ wings desperately and dangerously. The moment surpassed the scenes set by America’s chaotic withdrawal from Saigon in 1975. 

The benchmark, now onwards, will most likely be Kabul, not Saigon. Videos, widely circulated on social media platforms, on Monday showed a few Afghans, who hung onto to the edges and fuel tank of the plane to just get out of the country, falling off mid-air--a cruel reversal of the scenes of the 9/11 when many Americans jumped off the tall burning twin towers of the World Trade Center. 

“Kabul Airport: Saigon on steroids...this will haunt the US administration for decades (many of these young hanging off the plane died),” Saad Mohseni, the director of MOBY Group, which owns Afghanistan’s largest news network, TOLO News, tweeted. 

Thousands of Afghans rushed to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday in desperate attempts to flee the country a day after the Taliban took control of Kabul, creating complete chaos which American soldiers, stationed there to pull out its nationals, were struggling to control.

Multiple reports reported firings at the airport by US troops who attempted to disperse the crowd near the planes, which were there to evacuate only Americans. At least five people are reportedly killed. Videos, circulating on social media platforms, showed their bodies lying in the airport, unattended. 

The US had deployed over 6000 troops, including 1000 paratroopers sent on Monday, to complete what US Secretary Blinken described as the “orderly withdrawal.” 

The Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday, hour after President Ashraf Ghani along with his two aides fled the country, bringing an ignominious end to the 20-year-old US-backed government in Kabul. Afghan security forces collapsed or fled in the face of an insurgent offensive that swept the country in just over a week. 

Most people spent the day hiding in their homes on Monday as the Taliban deployed fighters at major intersections. Taliban fighters were seen searching vehicles at one of the city’s main squares for government soldiers, sympathisers and, possibly, unveiled women.

(SAM)