UncategorizedScenes From Afghanistan: Here’s What Happened Today

Scenes From Afghanistan: Here’s What Happened Today


On Tuesday, nine days after the Taliban walked back into power in Kabul, government services were still largely unavailable and residents are struggling to lead their daily lives in an economy that, propped up for the past generation by American aid, is now suddenly in free fall.

While relative calm reigned over the capital, in sharp contrast to the free-for-all at the airport, many residents hid in their homes or ventured out only cautiously to see what life might be like under their new rulers.

Even those who said they feared the Taliban were struck by the relative order and quiet on the streets. But for some, the quiet has been ominous.

Text by Norimitsu Onishi and Sharif Hassan.

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“When we came from Afghanistan, it was a miserable circumstance for us and we left our family. I’m so sorry.” Journalist: “No, no, take your time.” “And it was so hard for us because our family there and our country destroyed.” “We really thought that we have to go because we didn’t have any other choice because, serving our country is just by getting educated.”

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CreditCredit…Associated Press

With a deadline to depart looming next week, the U.S. military has quickened the pace of evacuations out of Kabul, moving as many as 11,000 people out of the capital city in one recent 24-hour period. Now many of those who have left Afghanistan have reached the United States, Germany, Spain, Qatar and other countries that have agreed to either serve as temporary transit stops for fleeing Afghans or permanent resettlement locations.

Video footage shows Afghan nationals arriving Monday at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, where one woman wept: “My girls are in Afghanistan,” she said in between sobs, “and I am in America.”

Thousands of miles away, Zarifa Ghafari, one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors, arrived in Düsseldorf, Germany. As an outspoken advocate of women’s rights in Afghanistan, she has often acknowledged that she could be a target for assassination.

Speaking Monday, she thanked the German government for keeping her safe.

“I’m really, really, really thankful to the German government and all people to save my life and my family’s life,” she said, with tears in her eyes.

“I am just here to raise the voice of those 99 percent of people in Afghanistan who are not able to come out of their houses, those women who are not able to work, those women who are not able to speak out.”

Some members of a widely known Afghan girls’ robotics team also have departed the country, and they arrived in Qatar in recent days.

“When we came from Afghanistan it was a miserable circumstance for us,” said Nahid Rahimi, one of the team’s members. “It was so hard for us, because our family is there, and our country is destroyed.”

Some Afghans have sought to flee west to Turkey through Iran but have encountered hostility at the Turkish border. Others have headed east to Pakistan.

In a few cases, Afghans who were in Pakistan say they have been waiting at the border, wishing to re-enter their home country now under Taliban rule.

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“Because of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, we migrated here to Pakistan. Now peace has been established there, so we are asking the Pakistani government, we have our household with women and kids waiting. We want them to cross the border. People want to return, but they are not allowed to cross. We request that the Pakistani government allow us to cross the border because peace has been established, because there’s no war.”

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CreditCredit…AFP

“We migrated here to Pakistan because of the ongoing war in Afghanistan,” Muhammad Nabi, an Afghan national, said in video provided by Agence France-Presse. “People want to return, but they are not allowed to cross.”

Text by Matt Stevens.

Overhead images of Kabul’s airport taken on Monday underscore the size of the crowds outside the gates. The area around the airport has been an epicenter of chaos for days, as thousands of Americans, their allies and other Afghans have sought to flee the country after the Taliban swept into the city.

To get to the airport, people have had to navigate various checkpoints, including many controlled by the Taliban.

Some who have managed to gain entrance can be seen waiting on a tarmac on the military side of the airport near an American C-17 aircraft.

Photos by Maxar Technologies, via Reuters. Text by Matt Stevens.

Karim (left), 15, Gul Ahmad (center), 14, and Saeed, 15, grew up together in Kharchan, a village in the province of Herat. They were determined to leave home and find better lives.
Credit…Kiana Hayeri for The New York Times

In June, the photojournalist Kiana Hayeri set out to photograph Afghanistan’s post-9/11 generation. She sought to capture their deepening uncertainty about their country’s future as the American withdrawal approached.

Instead she wound up documenting the end of life as they knew it.

Members of the Taliban and their supporters attended a public event on Monday in Kabul put on by the group’s Preaching and Guidance Commission. At the event, the Taliban’s Minister of Culture and Information, Zabiullah Mujahid, addressed a crowd.

The event was an early demonstration of the central role religion will play under Taliban rule, and another move by the new regime to display its dominance since declaring an Islamic Emirate.

Separately, video footage from Monday showed a Taliban member speaking to a crowd in Kabul, delivering remarks that may similarly offer clues about how the group will try to persuade Afghans to back them in the days ahead.

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Last night, this morning, until 4 p.m. today, the Taliban did not eat. They fought the Americans on empty stomachs. What’s wrong with all of you? We’re all Afghans, and so are you. Where is our pride? Where is our dignity? Where is our honor? Today, we are begging the Americans to take care of us and this is a huge shame. For me, it’s very embarrassing, I’m not sure about you all. [Inaudible] The Americans must leave Afghanistan. We will force them out. We will not allow them here. [Inaudible] I will fight the Americans as long as I’m alive. We defeated the Americans with old guns. This fight requires honor and faith. Thousands of Americans and their puppets are busy trying to keep Afghanistan secure. We don’t have any fear of them. Thousands of tanks … I am looking for one representative amongst you. We will not allow anyone to exploit Afghanistan’s wealth. No one can defeat our forces We will make sure of it.”

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CreditCredit…Reuters

In his remarks, the Taliban member urges Afghans to unite — despite the group’s history of oppressive rule — even as thousands have gathered at the airport hoping to be evacuated. The man appeals to Afghans’ sense of national pride and paints Americans as enemy combatants.

Americans, the Taliban member says, “must leave” the country, or the Taliban, he says, will “force them out.”

Photos by Victor J. Blue for The New York Times. Text by Victor J. Blue, Sarah Kerr and Matt Stevens.

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Look at all the destroyed gear. It looks like — that fire right there was the radar for the C-RAM. It looks like they have set that on fire. People destroying hard drives down there at the end. The American flag here is the last one. Every flagpole here used to be a different flag of a different nation, part of the NATO group that was here supporting the efforts in Afghanistan. You see the American flag is the only one left. And that’s only going to be there for a few more hours.

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Garbage bins overflowing with destroyed equipment. Smashed computer parts scattered across the ground. Diplomatic workers burning documents.

Videos and photos taken by several U.S. government contractors and posted to social media, and verified and analyzed by The New York Times, reveal the chaos as Americans rushed to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Kabul early last week as the Taliban swept into the city.

The takeover and the hurried U.S. departure made for a defining moment, capping nearly 20 years of war. But few images have emerged showing how the personnel inside the diplomatic compound quickly mobilized to leave — and leave behind as little as possible that might be of use to the Taliban.

One contractor who filmed the events as they unfolded compared it to the fall of Saigon. The contractor asked not to be identified for fear of losing his job. Many of the posts by contractors were later deleted.

A weapon system intended to protect the U.S. Embassy from incoming rockets, artillery and mortars, known as C-RAM, is seen burning in one of the videos. Another contractor, who asked for anonymity because he could lose his security clearance for talking to the news media, said the equipment was destroyed so the Taliban couldn’t use it.

Similarly, several armored vehicles were left behind in the embassy compound, which was verified by matching up multiple videos from contractors with satellite imagery. The vehicles were left inoperable, according to the contractor.

“Obviously, we don’t want to see any weapons or systems to fall into the hands of people that would use them in such a way to harm our interests or those of partners and allies,” John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said on Monday. “But I don’t have any policy solutions for you today about how we would or could address that going forward.”

It is unclear whether Taliban fighters have entered the embassy compound.

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The violence and chaos that erupted in Kabul in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover, spurring protests and a wave of people trying to flee the country, injured an untold number of Afghans. Some of them have wound up in a nearby hospital for treatment, like this one run by the nongovernmental organization EMERGENCY.

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Many of the victims in the wards of this Kabul-area hospital had been shot, and were recovering from gunshot wounds.

Photos by Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times. Text by Matt Stevens.

The area around the airport has been a flash point for violence and has become a symbol of the hasty effort to evacuate thousands of people from Afghanistan very rapidly.

That violence continued apace on Monday. A member of the Afghan security forces died in a firefight with unidentified attackers, according to the German military, which also said that three other members of the Afghan forces were wounded in the skirmish outside the airport’s North Gate.

Around the airport, groups of Afghans sat on the hardened ground, seemingly resigned, at least for the moment, to another day of waiting.

Video footage recorded Monday showed people continuing to mill about beneath a relentlessly hot sun. In the afternoon, boys were photographed selling cotton candy to Afghans gathered in a field outside the entrances to the military-controlled side of the airport.

From Sunday to Monday, U.S. military officials said they had transported just under 11,000 people to other countries. Commercial airlines have also started evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from bases in the Middle East at the request of federal officials.

Photos by Victor J. Blue for The New York Times. Video by Anadolu Agency. Text by Matt Stevens.

In the days since the Taliban seized control of Kabul, signs of resistance among Afghans have emerged in pockets north of the capital.

Afghan soldiers — sometimes with the aid of villagers — have mounted armed challenges to the Taliban and in some cases successfully driven militants out of districts, according to former Afghan officials. But even Afghans sympathetic to the effort have expressed deep doubts about its prospects to roll back Taliban control.

An analysis of satellite imagery by The New York Times confirmed a buildup of military equipment in Panjshir, which includes a strategic valley that two decades ago held out against the militants. By some estimates, thousands of Afghan soldiers fled to the province following the latest Taliban takeover.

Videos posted to social media showed a parade of cars and motorcycles waving the flag of the Northern Alliance — a military alliance of resistance groups — and several American-made military vehicles being driven north through the valley by Afghan security forces.

But one video circulating on Monday was confirmed to show fighters with a Taliban flag on a bridge over Panjshir River just outside of the province, as the militants say they are moving in on the resistance fighters there.

Photos by Afp – Getty Images and Reuters. Text by Haley Willis and Matt Stevens. Additional reporting by Christiaan Triebert.

U.S.-allied forces continued working on Monday at the airport in Kabul, which for days has been a chaotic and sometimes dangerous choke point for those wishing to flee Afghanistan.

British and Canadian soldiers stood guard near a canal as Afghans waited outside the airport, while some helped Afghans climb up on the wall of a canal.

The leaders of the Group of 7 nations are expected to hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation on the ground as violent clashes aggravate the already precarious security situation.

American officials have said at least a dozen countries have been or will be used as brief transit stops for U.S. military flights out of Afghanistan and roughly the same number have pledged to help resettle Afghans.

Photos by Wakil Kohsar/Afp – Getty Images. Text by Matt Stevens.

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

A young man sells Taliban flags at the roundabout outside the vacated U.S. embassy in Kabul, one week after the Taliban seized control of the city and American personnel were evacuated from the compound.

A pastel pink and blue mural displaying smiling girls serves as the backdrop. Dari script written on the wall reads: “I am the future of Afghanistan.”

During an earlier era of Taliban rule, officials barred women from working outside the home or leaving the house without a male guardian, eliminated schooling for girls and publicly flogged those who violated the group’s morality code. Since the U.S. ousted the Taliban roughly two decades ago, women and girls have rejoined society in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.

In the past week, Taliban officials have tried to reassure women that things will be different this time around. But it is far from clear whether that will be the case, and the uncertainty threatens the gains of women across Afghanistan.

Text by Matt Stevens.

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“I need a female medic now! Sit down.” “You need to calm down. Calm down.” [baby crying] “Please call someone.” [baby crying] [gunshots]

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CreditCredit…Sky News Exclusive via Associated Press

Videos from Kabul airport on Saturday showed scores of injuries and adults passed out as Afghans clamored to be evacuated from Afghanistan.

The video clips, which are believed to have been recorded sometime Saturday morning, suggest that almost a week after the Taliban seized control of Kabul, conditions near the airport are not improving and may be worsening.

The videos showed a soldier urging a man sprawled out on the ground to “calm down” as she tried to give the man liquid to drink.

The recordings also show people pouring water onto the head of a screaming child and soldiers using a hose to cool people at the gate. Soldiers are seen hoisting people over a barrier. A Sky News journalist at the scene reported that near the front of the crowd, people were being “crushed.”

The grim scenes are the latest to emerge in a week that has been filled with desperate moments. On Monday, a crowd of Afghans surged onto the tarmac at the airport and tried to climb onto aircrafts as they departed. Some were killed.

And in another jarring scene, a baby was passed over a concrete wall topped with razor wire to a Marine. The baby was eventually reunited with his family.

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Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, dozens of countries have been working to evacuate their citizens and vulnerable Afghans, including those who have worked for the U.S. military or embassy.CreditCredit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Some of the thousands of people who have fled Afghanistan in recent days after its takeover by the Taliban have begun arriving in countries across the world that have pledged to help the massive evacuation effort. In some cases, countries are serving as safe if temporary transit stops. In other cases, they are permanent resettlement locations for refugees.

Videos from The Associated Press and Reuters show an airplane touching down in the dark of night at the Royal Air Force base in Brize Norton, England, and passengers getting off the plane. At a U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany, videos showed riders getting off a bus late Friday and having their temperatures taken as they exited. And in Perth, Australia, the same evening, families and their children could be seen lugging their belongings wearily into a hotel after a long journey.

Over the past several days, the evacuation of foreigners and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul has evolved into a global effort. Top American officials have said that 12 countries have been or will be acting as brief transit stops for U.S. military flights out of Afghanistan and 13 countries have pledged to help resettle Afghans.

They have said that since the airlift operation began last Sunday out of Kabul, 17,000 people have been evacuated, including 2,500 Americans.

Text by Matt Stevens.

Afghans headed to shops and markets on Saturday morning nearly a week after the Taliban took control of the capital.

Just a short distance from the airport where thousands of people have descended in desperate attempts to flee the country, street vendors laid out sliced melon that sweated under the warm sun. Shoppers packed into busy thoroughfares, huddled under umbrellas and inspected the merchandise.

Afghanistan’s economy faces significant challenges as the Taliban sweeps into power. The country has leaned for two decades on foreign aid that now accounts for nearly half its legal economy. Afghans are also grappling with food insecurity, and a drought threatens to exacerbate the food supply issues.

The Afghan national cricket team at a training session in Kabul on Saturday. The team was preparing for a match in Sri Lanka against Pakistan next month.
Credit…Hoshang Hashimi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Even as scenes of chaos and desperation have unfolded outside Kabul’s airport, just seven kilometers away, players on the Afghan national cricket team are continuing to train at their home stadium.

As recently as Wednesday, the country’s cricket board posted pictures on Facebook of players stretching, and photos taken on Saturday showed bowlers hurling balls at waiting batsmen.

In the days since the Taliban took over Kabul, different pockets of the city have at times felt worlds apart. Near the airport, thousands of Afghans and Americans have been clamoring amid sometimes violent chaos to leave the country. But elsewhere, there are signs of the hum of daily life.

The Afghan national team was training for a three-match series against Pakistan that is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka next month.

Credit…Hoshang Hashimi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Perhaps nowhere is the contrast more stark than on the cricket pitch, where Hamid Shinwari, the chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, told Agence France-Presse that “the atmosphere in the camp was very spirited.” He told the news agency that officials were in touch with the authorities about getting the team to Sri Lanka after normal flight operations resume.

Officials with the Afghanistan Cricket Board did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Saturday.

Text by Matt Stevens.





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