Afghanistan: Seventeen injured in stampede at gates to Kabul airport as people rush to flee country

Seventeen people have been injured in a stampede at a gate to the airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul, a NATO security official has said.

He also told Reuters he had not heard any reports of violence by Taliban fighters outside the airport.

It comes as the militant group blew up a statue of a Shia militia leader, casting doubt on its claims it has become more moderate in the two decades since it was ousted from power.

Afghanistan live updates: All the latest as MPs debate UK’s response

Photos on social media showed the insurgents had destroyed a statue of Abdul Ali Mazari, a militia leader who fought against the group during Afghanistan‘s civil war in the 1990s and was later killed by the group in 1996.

Mazari was a champion of the Hazara minority, a predominantly Shia group persecuted under Taliban rule.

The statue of Mazari stood in Bamyan province, where the Taliban infamously blew up two giant statues of Buddha that had been carved into the mountain 1,500 years ago.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has been holding talks with former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the ousted government.

Photos shared online showed Mr Karzai and Mr Abdullah meeting Anas Haqqani, a senior leader in the Haqqani network, which the US has branded a terrorist group.

The Taliban has claimed it will not seek revenge on those who have fought against the group and said it is committed to the rights of women within the framework of Sharia, or Islamic law.

When the Taliban previously ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, the group clamped down on women’s rights, carried out public executions and banned TV and music.

Afghans remain sceptical of the claims, with thousands racing to the airport and borders to flee the country while others hide in their homes.

Taliban militants took over the civilian side of Kabul airport on Tuesday and have used force in attempts to control the crowds, firing occasional warning shots into the air to disperse groups of people trying to push through the gates.

Follow the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

On Wednesday, groups of armed fighters could be seen patrolling an affluent neighbourhood in the capital city, which is home to several embassies as well as mansions belonging to the Afghan elite.

In the eastern city of Jalalabad, dozens of protesters raised the Afghan national flag in a demonstration against the Taliban.

Witnesses said the Taliban fired into the air to disperse the crowd and there were no immediate reports of any casualties.

Source: Read Full Article