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desperation Three people 'fall to their deaths from airborne plane' as thousands try to flee Afghanistan

Local news organisation Asvaka posted footage of what it claimed were people falling from the sky, and later of the victims’ bodies being collected

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A member of Taliban stands outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Picture: Reuters

A member of Taliban stands outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Picture: Reuters

A member of Taliban stands outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Picture: Reuters

Three people reportedly fell several hundred metres to their deaths from an airborne military plane after clinging to the undercarriage as it took off from Kabul Airport.

Local news organisation Asvaka posted footage of what it claimed were people falling from the sky, and later of the victims’ bodies being collected.

The report was not immediately verified by western news agencies.

Thousands Afghans desperate to leave the country thronged Kabul airport where five people were also killed after US troops opened fire to try to quell throngs of people desperate to get on departing military and commercial aircraft.

It is unclear whether they were killed by gunfire or in a stampede.

The United States will focus on securing the Kabul airport and additional U.S. forces will flow into the airport on Monday and Tuesday, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer said, as people tried to flee a day after Taliban insurgents seized the Afghan capital.

The United States has temporarily halted all evacuation flights from Kabul to clear people who had converged on the airfield, a U.S. defense official told Reuters, but did not say how long the pause would last.

The defence official said the United States intent was to get tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government out of Afghanistan and was looking at temporarily housing them at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas.

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the failure of the Afghan military is to blame for the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan.

Sullivan said that President Joe Biden, who has been accused of abandoning the Afghan people by setting a firm date for troop withdrawal, didn’t want the U.S. to enter a “third decade of conflict” in Afghanistan and believed it was time for the Afghan army to defend the country two decades after billions of dollars of investment and training by the U.S.

But Sullivan said, “we could not give them the will and ultimately they decided that they would not fight for Kabul.”

He added that the “worst-case scenario” for the U.S. would be to send thousands of troops to fight in a civil war when the Afghan army “wasn’t prepared to fight itself."

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Sullivan says Biden faced “bad choices” on the subject. The president ultimately opted to bring U.S. troops home and leave the Afghans to fight for themselves.

He says “it’s heartbreaking” to see what’s happening in Kabul but that Biden “stands by” his decision.

European Union foreign ministers will hold emergency talks tomorrow to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan, after the president fled and the Taliban seized control of the capital, Kabul, over the weekend.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a tweet Monday that he decided to convene the extraordinary videoconference so the ministers can make “a first assessment” of developments.

Borrell says that “Afghanistan stands at a crossroad. Security and wellbeing of its citizens, as well as international security are at play.”

European nations have been caught by surprise at the speed of the takeover. They’ve been evacuating embassies and leaving the strife-torn country in recent days. The EU has small diplomatic mission in Kabul. It’s one of Afghanistan’s biggest aid donors.

The U.N. humanitarian aid coordination agency says it and partners “are staying and delivering to people in need” despite a complex security situation in Afghanistan following the sweep by Taliban forces across the country.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid, or OCHA, says in a note: “The humanitarian community — both the U.N. and nongovernmental organizations – remains committed to helping people in the country.”

Even before the upheaval, some 18.4 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, OCHA said, and its $1.3 billion humanitarian response plan for the country is only 38% funded.

Moscow will decide whether to recognise the new Taliban government based on its conduct, the Kremlin envoy on Afghanistan has said.

Zamir Kabulov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that “no one is going to rush” the decision. “Recognition or non-recognition will depend on the conduct of the new authorities,” Kabulov said.

Russia labeled the Taliban a terrorist organisation in 2003, but has since hosted several rounds of talks in Afghanistan, most recently in March, that involved the group. Moscow, which fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with Soviet troops’ withdrawal in 1989, has made a diplomatic comeback as a mediator, reaching out to feuding Afghan factions as it has jockeyed with the U.S. for influence in the country.

Kabulov said on Monday the Taliban was “deservedly” declared a terrorist group in Russia two decades ago. “The Taliban have learned this lesson well. If they haven’t learned it in full, they will have to face great difficulties in relations not only with Russia, but with the entire global community,” Kabulov said.

The Taliban has promised a “peaceful” takeover but Afghans have deep fears for their rights and those of women and girls’ in particular, under the violent fundamentalist Islamists, with reports of extrajudicial killings around the country.

Meanwhile the Islamic militant group Hamas has congratulated the Taliban for their swift takeover of Afghanistan and the end to the United States’ 20-year presence in the country.

In a statement, the Palestinian grout welcomed “the defeat of the American occupation on all Afghan land” and praised what it said was the Taliban’s “courageous leadership on this victory, which was the culmination of its long struggle over the past 20 years.”

Hamas, a Palestinian group that opposes Israel’s existence, has governed the Gaza Strip since taking over the area in 2007, a year after it won a Palestinian election. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.

It wished the people of Afghanistan future success and said the ouster of the American troops proves “that the resistance of the peoples, foremost of which is our struggling Palestinian people, is due for victory.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Monday called for national reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan.

The official IRNA news agency quoted Raisi as saying Iran will support efforts to restore stability in Afghanistan as a first priority. He called Iran “a brother and neighboring nation” to Afghanistan. He also described the Americans' rapid pullout as a “military failure” that should “turn to an opportunity for restoring life, security and stable peace.”

Iran shares nearly 600 miles of borders with Afghanistan and is home to about 800,000 registered Afghan refugees and more than two million undocumented Afghans. The influx began after Soviet forces entered Afghanistan in 1979.

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