By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Amid a stand-off with the Taliban, an assailant attacked Afghan security forces outside Kabul’s international airport prompting the U.S. and allied forces to return fire, witnesses said.
At least one Afghan soldier was killed, and several Afghans were injured in the firefight, according to U.S. and German military sources.
The clashes came while Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers suggested attacking the U.S.-led coalition if these forces want more time for evacuations.
In remarks aimed at the embattled and frail U.S. President Joe Biden, the Taliban called the August 31 date a “red line.” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said extending the American presence would provoke a reaction.
“It’s a red line,” he told Sky News television. “President Biden announced that on August 31, they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to ask Biden to postpone the deadline at Tuesday’s Group of Seven (G7) meeting, several sources said. It comes amid revelations that at least one person on Britain’s no-fly list, often involving terror suspects, arrived in Britain due to limited vetting time.
But Shaheen warned: “If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences. It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, it will provoke a reaction.”
The Biden administration didn’t react with harsh language to the Taliban threat. Instead, an official said they “understand” the Taliban’s frustration.
“We have seen the public statements by the Taliban spokesman about their views on 31 August, I think we all understand that view,” explained U.S. Department of Defence press secretary John Kirby.
He added: “The goal is to get as many people out as fast as possible. And while we’re glad to see the numbers that we got yesterday, we’re not going to rest on any laurels.”
However, it was increasingly difficult for people to escape, underscored by Monday’s gunfire near an entrance to the Kabul airport. It erupted after at least seven Afghans died a day earlier in a panicked stampede of thousands of people.
Italian aid workers operating hospitals in Afghanistan said they treated six patients with bullet wounds from the airport who survived the clash that killed one soldier.
While it was not clear who was responsible, the Taliban fired warning shots and lashed out with batons to try “to control crowds,” swelling into the thousands outside the airport. Military officials also fear that Islamic State and al-Qaida militants freed by the Taliban could mingle with crowds and commit suicide attacks.
Afghans poured onto the tarmac last week, and some clung to a U.S. military transport plane as it took off, later plunging to their deaths. At least seven people died that day, in addition to the seven killed Sunday.
Despite the chaos, Taliban spokesman Shaheen said there was no reason for Afghans to leave as nobody faced imminent harm. He claimed those fleeing only go because they want a better life, as 70 percent of Afghanistan’s population lives below the poverty line.
Additionally, the spokesman said women and girls had nothing to fear.
However, 300 students – mostly girls – have been evacuated to Qatar for their safety amid reports that Taliban fighters force girls to marry them, mistreat women, and close schools.
Shaheen played down those fears saying women “will lose nothing.” Only, “if they have no hijab, they will have a hijab… women are required to have the same rights as you have in your country but with a hijab.”
Shaheen denied suggestions that the enforced head covering limits women’s rights saying many have already resumed work.
“Now, women teachers have resumed work—lost nothing. Female journalists, they have resumed their work. Lost nothing.”
Some female broadcasters returned back on air since the Taliban took control of the country. But activists and residents say many women are too scared to return to work or have been told to stay home.
Minority Christians are especially suffering under Taliban rule, Worthy News learned. And with the U.S. and other NATO alliance forces under pressure to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban showed no regrets about people who died while trying to help Afghanistan.
“They occupied our country,” Shaheen, the spokesman, said. “If we occupy your country. What you will say to me? What if I killed your people in your country? What will you say?”
He stressed: “I think all people suffered a lot. Bloodshed. Destruction. Everything. But we say the past is the past. Part of our past history. Now we want to focus on the future.”
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