At least 5m Afghan refugee expected, as Taliban killings, detentions and intimidation is emerging across Afghanistan, ominously contradicting the hardline Islamist group’s promise earlier this week not to take revenge against its opponents. With reports of the Taliban going door to door searching for people who worked with the former Afghan government or western countries, claims have also emerged of Taliban fighters torturing and killing members of an ethnic minority in Afghanistan after overrunning their village last month. Amnesty International said its researchers had spoken to witnesses in Ghazni province who recounted how the Taliban killed nine Hazara men in the village of Mundarakht between 4 and 6 July. Hazaras are Shia Muslims who were previously persecuted by the Taliban and who made major gains in education and social status in recent years. Agnès Callamard, the head of Amnesty International, said the brutality of the killings was “a reminder of the Taliban’s past record and a horrifying indicator of what Taliban rule may bring”. The rights group said many more killings may have gone unreported because the Taliban cut mobile phone services in many areas they have captured to prevent images from being published.
As we mentioned earlier, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has described the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as “tragic, dangerous, and unnecessary”. In his first statement since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban last Sunday, he said the decision had been made “in obedience to an imbecilic slogan about ending ‘the forever wars'” – referring to a phrase used by US President Joe Biden during his election campaign. Blair argued that the international military commitment in Afghanistan had changed, with troop numbers having “declined to a minimum” and no allied soldiers killed in combat in 18 months. “We didn’t need to do it. We chose to do it,” he wrote of the withdrawal. Blair, who led the UK when it invaded the country alongside the US after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, said the exit of allied troops would have Jihadist groups “cheering”. He also said that Britain had a “moral obligation” to stay in Afghanistan until “all those who need to be are evacuated”.
Seven Afghan civilians have died in the crowds outside Kabul airport, as people desperately try to flee the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
There have been chaotic scenes outside Kabul airport as thousands of Afghans have desperately tried to escape and governments have scrambled to evacuate their citizens and eligible Afghan colleagues.
About 4,500 US troops are in temporary control of Hamid Karzai International Airport, with some 900 British soldiers also on patrol at the site as part of efforts to secure the evacuation flights.
Taliban militants have been manning checkpoints around the perimeter of the airport and blocking Afghans without travel documents from entering. The Pentagon says 17,000 people have been flown out of Kabul since it fell to the Taliban, including 2,500 US citizens.
The US embassy in Afghanistan has advised Americans not to travel to the airport in Kabul because of “potential security threats” at the gates. Huge crowds are still massing at the gates and there are unverified reports of people being crushed.
Banks and government offices remain closed in Kabul and reports say people are running out of money and food
More Taliban leaders have arrived in Kabul for talks on forming a new Afghan government.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has reassured Afghan employees airlifted out of Kabul that the EU has not recognised the Taliban.