Westerners 'blocked from getting to Kabul airport' after travel ban08/24/2021
Now Taliban fighters ‘stop Westerners getting to Kabul airport’ after they BANNED Afghans from leaving the country and ordered Joe Biden to get his troops out by August 31 deadline
- Taliban spokesman said only foreigners will be able to access Kabul airport
- He ordered locals to return to their homes amid the desperate attempts to flee
- Zabihullah Mujahid also neither confirmed nor denied secret meeting with CIA
- It comes after reports that CIA director William Burns met with Taliban chief Abdul Ghani Baradar to discuss August 31 troop withdrawal
Westerners in Afghanistan are being ‘blocked from getting to Kabul airport’ by Taliban fighters after the extremist group banned locals from fleeing the country.
The militant group today issued an edict saying only foreigners will be able to access the airport for evacuation.
A spokesperson for the group ordered locals to return home. Roads in the city have been blocked in a bid to stop Afghans from leaving.
In a fresh threat to the west, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Islamists’ chief spokesman, also said in a press conference today the group will ‘not accept’ any extension to the deadline.
But while Mujahid said the foreigners would still be allowed to leave Afghanistan, reports today suggest American citizens are also being refused access to the airport.
Quoting ‘multiple sources’, Politico’s Alex Thompson said: ‘The Taliban has now started halting people trying to get in through the airport gates.
‘Not just Afghans but American citizens. Informal groups coordinating need to redirect people on the fly.’
There was also panic today as the US embassy reportedly issued a last call for US citizens to leave Afghanistan, only to then recall the warning minutes later.
It comes as Taliban spokesman Mujahid said from now on only stranded foreigners will be able to reach the airport in the coming week to board Nato and Western planes.
He said: ‘The road to Kabul airport is closed for locals and open to foreigners.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesman, refused to confirm or deny a meeting with senior CIA bosses at a press conference in Kabul today
The militant group today issued an edict saying only foreigners will be able to access the airport for evacuation. A spokesperson for the group ordered locals to return home. Roads in the city have been blocked in a bid to stop Afghans from leaving
While Mr Mujahid said the foreigners would still be allowed to leave Afghanistan, reports today suggest American citizens are also being refused access to the airport
Taliban fighters pose on the streets of Kabul as the Islamist group says no Afghan citizens will be allowed to leave the country after August 31
‘We fully assure the locals and tell them to return to their homes. We are not in favour of allowing Afghans to leave.’
He added that women have been told to stay at home for their own safety, saying: ‘It’s currently for their benefit to prevent any ill treatment.’
Mujahid also refused to deny the Taliban held a secret meeting with the CIA after reports emerged that the Islamists met with the agency’s director in Kabul yesterday.
He said he is ‘not aware’ of the meeting but did not deny that it had taken place.
CIA director William Burns is thought to have met with the Taliban’s de-facto leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul to discuss – among other things – the August 31 deadline to withdraw foreign forces from the country.
Speaking about foreign citizens in Afghanistan, Mujahid reiterated the deadline implemented by Joe Biden which other world leaders fear is too soon to carry out the evacuations.
He said: ‘All people should be removed prior to that date. If [western countries] wish to remove people before then, they can.
‘[But] after that we will not allow people to leave, we will take a difference stance.’
He spoke a day after another Taliban spokesman – Suhail Shaheen – warned of ‘consequences’ if western soldiers overstay their welcome.
Joe Biden had been under pressure from other world leaders to extend the deadline, with France, the UK, Spain and Germany all warning that it does not give them long enough to evacuate all those they promised sanctuary to.
Speaking in Kabul today, Mujahid urged thousands of people trying to flee the country via Kabul airport to ‘go home’ – adding: ‘We guarantee your safety’.
William Burns, director of the CIA (left), was said to have met with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar (right) in Kabul on Monday to discuss evacuations
A female journalist took part in the press conference held by the Taliban in Kabul amid fears of a crackdown on women’s rights in the new regime
Angela Merkel speaks with G7 leaders in a virtual meeting to discuss the evacuations from Afghanistan
Mujahid said America and other western governments should stop evacuation flights immediately and accused them of taking the ‘educated elite’ out of Afghanistan which he said will hurt the rebuilding effort.
‘Unfortunately the Americans are still… taking Afghan people out of the country to an uncertain future,’ he said.
‘We would like to say to the Americans – our doctors, our engineers, our educated elite, we need those people in the country.
‘We do not want them out of the country to work in [American] institutions, or work as plain laborers in those countries.’
Mujahid continued to deny reports of Taliban reprisal attacks against those who worked with western forces, insisting there had been an ‘amnesty’ and that everyone will be allowed to return safely to their lives before the conflict.
‘I can reassure you that no-one has been targeted anywhere in the country,’ he said.
‘I would like to reassure everyone in the country to stay calm and that nobody is being targeted or is under investigation because there has been a general amnesty.
‘We want peace stability and to improve our country.’
Quizzed by journalists about the repression of women under Taliban rule, Mujahid insisted restrictions on their movements are ‘temporary’ while security is fragile.
Asked about atrocities being reported to the UN since the Islamists took power, he suggested this was the result of fighters not being ‘trained’ properly.
Biden will be forced to make a decision later today after an emergency G7 call with world leaders including Britain’s Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who are expected to urge the president to extend the deadline.
But the Taliban has warned of ‘consequences’ if the US crosses that ‘red line’ and today doubled-down on its threat, telling foreign nations: ‘Don’t encourage Afghans to leave.’
A White House official on Monday told Reuters that Biden will make his decision within 24 hours to give the Pentagon time to prepare.
Rescue efforts became increasingly urgent today as Spain warned it would have leave people behind and France said it would stop airlifts on Thursday – five days before the deadline – if the US could not secure an extension.
About 50,000 foreigners and Afghans have fled the country from Kabul’s airport since the Taliban swept into power nine days ago, according to the US government.
Many Afghans fear a repeat of the brutal interpretation of sharia law that the Taliban implemented when first in power from 1996-2001, or retribution for working with the US-backed government over the past two decades.
The Taliban, who ended two decades of war with an astonishingly swift rout of government forces, has been publicly tolerant of the evacuation effort.
The Taliban achieved their stunning victory thanks to Biden pulling out nearly all American troops from Afghanistan, following through on a deal struck with the movement by then-president Donald Trump.
However, Biden was forced to redeploy thousands of troops after the fall of Kabul to oversee the airlift.
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) is pictured during a virtual meeting of G7 leaders (left, on the screen) where Afghanistan will top the agenda
Joe Biden is being pressured by allies including France to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond the August 31 deadline to help get everyone with visas out of the country
The rush to leave Kabul has sparked harrowing scenes and left at least eight people dead.
Some have been crushed to death and at least one, a youth football player, died after falling off a plane.
The German defence ministry said Monday an Afghan soldier was killed and three others wounded in a firefight with unknown assailants.
Margarita Robles, the Spanish defence minister, said the security situation was getting worse.
‘The Taliban are becoming more aggressive, there is gunfire, violence is more obvious,’ she said in an interview with news radio Cadena Ser.
‘The situation is frankly dramatic and besides, with each passing day, it is worse because people are conscious that time is running out.’
The Taliban have repeatedly claimed to be different from their 1990s incarnation, and have declared an amnesty for government forces and officials.
But an intelligence assessment conducted for the United Nations said militants were going door-to-door hunting former government officials and those who worked with US and NATO forces.
In the capital and other cities, the former insurgents have enforced some sense of calm, with their fighters patrolling the streets and manning checkpoints.
The Taliban are also intent on quashing the last notable Afghan military resistance to their rule, made up of ex-government forces in the Panjshir Valley, north of the capital.
The Panjshir has long been known as an anti-Taliban bastion.
One of the leaders of the movement, named the National Resistance Front, is the son of famed anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.
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