Second charter flight carrying foreigners out of Afghanistan leaves Kabul airport as UN warns the Taliban have begun carrying out ‘reprisal killings’
- UN Envoy to Afghanistan warned of ‘credible allegations of reprisal killings’
- The Taliban have tried to present a reformed image, but it has been undermined
- Comes after just over 100 foreigners were airlifted from Afghanistan yesterday
- It was the first flight out of Kabul after August 30 end of the US-led evacuation
A second charter flight carrying foreigners out of Afghanistan has left Kabul airport today as the UN warned the Taliban have started carrying out ‘reprisal killings’.
The UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said there had been ‘credible allegations’ of targeted killings ‘despite the many statements granting general amnesties’.
She added Afghan security officials and people who worked for the previous administration were at risk.
The Taliban have been at pains to present a reformed image since sweeping to power on August 15, pledging a more moderate brand of rule.
But videos and footage from inside Afghanistan have told a different story, showing the militants beating and whipping people on the streets as reports emerged of targeted killings and fighters going door-to-door searching for blue US passports.
The evacuation flight is the latest sign Kabul Airport is close to resuming commercial operations after the chaotic US-led evacuation ended on August 30. Just over 100 foreigners, including 13 Brits, left Kabul yesterday on a charter flight.
A second charter flight carrying foreigners out of Afghanistan has left Kabul airport today as the UN warned the Taliban have started carrying out ‘reprisal killings’
Passengers get on a shuttle bus before boarding a Qatar Airways flight out of Kabul Airport today
The UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said ‘there have been credible allegations of reprisal killings… despite the many statements granting general amnesties’
The White House has praised the Taliban for being ‘businesslike and professional’ in allowing the flight to leave.
It comes as unconfirmed reports in the capital suggested the Taliban may hold a ceremony to swear in the new government on Saturday – the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that triggered the end of their first stint in power.
As news of a resumption in evacuation flights spread, some people gathered at the airport gates, pleading with Taliban guards to get in.
‘If I can’t go just kill me!’ said one woman, among a group of women and children each carrying backpacks.
Many Afghans in the capital are fearful of a repeat of the hardline Islamist group’s brutal and repressive rule from 1996-2001.
This was the first large-scale departure flight since the final US troops left on August 31 – an evacuation flight from Kabul to Qatar with just over 100 foreigners on board
The Taliban have already begun to segregate men and women students and medical staff, suggested women will be banned from playing sports, and unveiled an all-male government drawn exclusively from loyalist ranks.
More than 100 passengers were on the Qatar Airways flight that landed in Doha on Thursday evening, 10 days after a mammoth, chaotic airlift of more than 120,000 people came to a dramatic close with the US pullout.
In the days that followed the Taliban’s blitz, the airport had become a tragic symbol of desperation among Afghans terrified of the militants’ return to power – with thousands of people crowding around its gates daily, and some even clinging to jets as they took off.
More than 100 people were killed, including 13 US troops, in a suicide attack on August 26 near the airport that was claimed by the Islamic State group’s local chapter.
Qatar has said it worked with Turkey to swiftly resume operations at Kabul’s airport to allow the flow of people and aid.
The Taliban have repeatedly claimed they would not seek revenge against those who worked with the previous regime – and all Afghans would be granted free passage out of the country when commercial flights resume.
However, they have shown clear signs that they will not tolerate opposition.
Earlier this week, armed Taliban militants dispersed hundreds of protesters, sometimes by firing shots into the air, in cities across Afghanistan, including Kabul, Faizabad in the northeast and Herat in the west, where two people were shot dead.
They also moved to snuff out any further civil unrest, saying protests would need prior authorisation from the justice ministry and no demonstrations were allowed ‘for the time being’.
A Taliban fighter pulls his M-16 on a female protester in Kabul at a protest against the all-male administration on Tuesday
Harrowing images emerged of two journalists with angry welts and bruises after they were detained by Taliban fighters while covering protest