Latest from Afghanistan: US airlines activated to help evacuation, Biden will speak Sunday
It's been a week since the Taliban entered Afghanistan's capital city and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled.
And the scene at Hamid Karzai International Airport remains frenzied, with seven people killed as crowds try to get out of the country, the British military reported on Sunday.
“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
On Saturday, troops from several nations tried to control the crush of people pressing to get into the airport, as temperatures hit the mid-90s. Soldiers sprayed water from a hose on those gathered or gave them bottled water to pour over their heads. It wasn’t immediately clear whether those killed had been physically crushed or died from other health conditions.
A NATO official told Reuters on Sunday that 20 people have died in the last week at the airport amid the evacuation.
The U.S. continues to evacuate Americans and Afghan people with special immigrant visas, with 17,000 people sent out of Afghanistan in the last week.
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Resistance to Taliban in Aghanistan's northern provinces
The Taliban are holding talks with Afghan officials from previous governments on a political transition and say they will restore peace and security after decades of war. Afghan officials familiar with the talks say the Taliban have said they will not announce a government until after the Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. troop withdrawal.
But they already face stirrings of resistance.
In Baghlan province, some 75 miles north of Kabul, fighters calling themselves the “People's Uprising” claimed to have seized three districts in the Andarab Valley, nestled in the towering Hindu Kush mountains.
Khair Mohammad Khairkhwa, the former provincial head of intelligence, and Abdul Ahmad Dadgar, another leader in the uprising, said Taliban fighters had burned down homes and kidnapped children. Two other officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, made similar allegations. The Taliban did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the nearby Panjshir province — the only one yet to fall under Taliban control — a group of militia leaders and officials from the ousted government have pledged to defend it against the Taliban, who circulated video showing their fighters heading toward the region. The province is a stronghold of the Northern Alliance fighters who joined with the U.S. to topple the Taliban in 2001, and Ahmad Massoud, the son of a famous Northern Alliance commander assassinated days before the 9/11 attacks, has appeared in videos from there.
But it appears unlikely a few thousand guerrilla fighters will soon succeed where the Afghan national security forces failed despite 20 years of Western aid, assistance and training.