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Seven Afghan civilians have been killed around Kabul’s international airport as chaos continued to hamper Western efforts to evacuate people from the country a week after the Taliban recaptured control.
The British Ministry of Defense confirmed the civilian deaths, acknowledging on Sunday that “conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging” as the US warned its citizens not to go to the airport unless they were told they were citing “potential security threats outside the gates”. . .
Tony Blair, who commanded British troops to Afghanistan 20 years ago as Prime Minister, over the weekend criticized the US withdrawal from the country as “tragic” and “unnecessary”, in his first public comments since Kabul fell to the Taliban.
Blair said in a statement that the US decision to leave Afghanistan was made “with cheers from every jihadist group around the world”, adding that the UK had a “moral obligation” to assist with the evacuation and give of refuge for Afghans.
He described the US exit agreement with the Taliban under former US President Donald Trump as “full of concessions” and driven “not by grand strategy, but by politics”.
Blair’s conviction came amid frenzied scenes in Kabul, with Taliban fighters blocking desperate Afghans and foreign personnel from reaching the Kabul airport.
The crisis has engulfed President Joe Biden’s administration with controversy, as Afghanistan is now in turmoil without a functioning government and bureaucrats fleeing to safety. Top Taliban leaders, including co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in Kabul this weekend with the aim of forming a new government.
The speed of the Taliban offensive and the shocking capitulation of Kabul put foreigners and Afghans associated with Western powers at risk of retaliatory attacks by the Taliban and other terror groups.
While the US issued an advisory on Saturday urging its citizens not to go to the airport unless instructed otherwise, officials warned of the growing risk of terror attacks launched by the Afghan branch of the terror group Isis, which launched a missile last month. launched. attack on the presidential palace in Kabul.
In the week since the Taliban took power, Afghans belonging to Ashraf Ghani’s government and security forces, activists and journalists have reported being threatened by Taliban fighters, who have launched a door-to-door manhunt in search of collaborators.
German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle alleged last week that Taliban fighters killed a relative of one of its journalists and raided the homes of other reporters, violating the Taliban’s pledge to offer general amnesty and its campaign to brand itself more moderate. painting undermines.
The Taliban recaptured Kabul a week ago after a lightning strike across the country, taking back control for the first time since they were ousted by the 2001 US invasion that followed the 9/11 terror attacks. During its stint in power, the Islamist group deposed a ruthless theocracy, deprived women of their rights and enforced a medieval form of justice with public executions. It also allowed Islamist extremist groups to thrive in the country.
Since Ghani fled the country, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and ex-peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah have pushed for an inclusive government that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and potentially secure a role in the new government.
Karzai and Abdullah met with senior Taliban officials, including those of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban affiliate closely associated with Pakistani intelligence, in an attempt to negotiate a power-sharing agreement.
Ahmad Wali Massoud, the brother of a fallen Afghan warlord from the anti-Taliban bastion of the Panjshir valley, has warned of a wide-ranging civil uprising if the militants don’t agree to a deal. But after the Taliban’s swift offensive across the country, analysts say political opponents have little leverage to enforce concessions and may struggle to mobilize a war-weary population.
Additional reporting by Helen Warrell in London