By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – People plunged to their death as many tried to hold on to a leaving American military jet in Kabul as they tried to escape the Islamist Taliban group, U.S. officials confirmed.
At least seven people died in Monday’s incident amid chaotic scenes at the Afghan capital’s main airport, where thousands tried to flee their war-torn nation.
There were earlier reports of sporadic gunfire around the airport and turmoil at a tarmac amid reports that Taliban fighters executed alleged supporters of the U.S.-led military coalition.
The chaotic scenes in Afghanistan added to pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden amid mounting evidence the Taliban advance went faster than anticipated.
President Biden was to return to the White House on Monday to deliver long-delayed remarks on Afghanistan, the White House said.
Critics questioned his ability to be a commander-in-chief amid scenes reminiscent of the fall of Saigon, Vietnam, in 1975.
On Monday, crowds of people rushed to the airport as the Taliban enforced their Islamist rule over the broader capital and the nation.
The insurgents’ advance saw prisons emptied with al-Qaida militants among those roaming the streets and armories looted.
It took the Taliban just over a week to dethrone the country’s Western-backed government. Military experts have raised questions about why Biden chose to withdraw all American forces by August 31 at the height of a fighting season.
Despite the difficulties, Washington said all U.S. embassy staff had been evacuated to the airport. Still, concerns remain over the thousands of translators, guards, and other supporters of the U.S.-led military coalition.
As the death toll rose, more than 60 countries issued a joint statement calling on the Taliban to allow people to leave peacefully and safely.
Citizens were left on their own as the Western-backed government effectively collapses, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country. He initially was said to have left for Tajikistan, but the latest reports suggested he may have gone to Uzbekistan, another Central Asian nation bordering Afghanistan.
Witnesses had earlier said that the Taliban entered Kabul virtually unopposed and seized the presidential palace.
The events undoing two decades of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan came as President Joe Biden and his press secretary Jen Psaki were unavailable for comments over the weekend.
Biden was away from the White House, with the president staying at Camp David – the presidential country retreat in Maryland – as Kabul fell to the Taliban. He had been scheduled to remain at Camp David, where he spent the weekend, until Wednesday. But amid mounting pressure, The White House said Biden would speak in the East Room at 3:45 p.m. local time Monday.
Both were earlier not expected to return to Washington D.C. for days, and journalists received automated “out-of-office” replies from Psaki in their email box.
A Republican Party staffer, Matt Whitlock, wrote on social networking site Twitter: “This is wild. Biden has no public events tomorrow, he’s out of the White House until mid-week, and Psaki has an out-of-office reply that she’s out for a week.”
Biden said only last month it was “highly unlikely” that Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban after the withdrawal of American forces by the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Former U.S. President Donald J. Trump among the Republican voices condemning Biden’s alleged failed foreign policy towards Afghanistan and the region.
“What Joe Biden has done with Afghanistan is legendary,” wrote Trump in a statement on Sunday, which called for his resignation. “It will go down as one of the greatest defeats in American history!”
The former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, added Psaki and the White House’s silence: “[The] world watches a collapse of 20 years of US involvement in Afghanistan and White House takes a vacation. I guess she will ‘circle back.’”
Biden hasn’t yet spoken publicly about the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. He released a lengthy statement from Camp David over the weekend defending his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. He reportedly held a meeting with senior officials on the security situation in the troubled nation.
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