Afghanistan: Gunfire heard as thousands trying to flee continue to descend on Kabul Airport

Video shows warning shots being fired to control crowds at Kabul Airport

Thousands of people are continuing to descend on Kabul Airport as they attempt to flee Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, despite being told to leave the area.

Video recorded on Thursday morning showed crowds of families waiting outside the airport in the nation's capital, as gunfire was heard in the background.

In another video, warning shots were shown being fired to try to control the crowds.

There were also desperate scenes as one video appeared to show a baby being passed towards the gate of the airport.

Video appears to show baby being passed towards the gate of Kabul Airport in desperate scenes as people try to get themselves and their loved ones out of the country

A total of 12 people are understood to have been killed in and around the airport since the Taliban seized the city on Sunday, Taliban and NATO sources said.

The deaths were caused by gun shots or stampedes, an unnamed Taliban official said on Thursday.

Afghans desperate to flee are also crossing the border into Pakistan as two key border crossings with Pakistan, Torkham near Jalalabad and Chaman near Spin Boldak, are now open for trade.

Gunfire can be heard in the background as large crowds gather outside Kabul Airport

Hundreds of lorries have now passed through after having been stuck at the border for days, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said.

At the same time, the UK, US and other European countries have been evacuating their citizens.

The UK has deployed 900 troops to join about 4,500 US troops at Kabul Airport to help with with the evacuation operation.

Downing Street said on Wednesday it had evacuated 306 Brits, 2,052 Afghans and completed a further 2,000 Afghan resettlement applications.

Afghans crossing the border into Pakistan

US President Joe Biden said he will keep troops in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated, even if that means keeping them there beyond his August 31 deadline.

Describing the situation at Kabul Airport, defence secretary Ben Wallace said the US are in control of the airport with many of the troops doing the tasks that immigration staff would’ve done.

He said: “But the challenge is the Taliban is letting everybody else through which is why you see the number one concern, which is huge numbers of people at those gates trying to get in, either speculatively or they feel they’re trying to get to another country.

“That is a challenge, that’s putting our soldiers under tremendous stress, very distressful situation but they are dealing with it admirably and I will do anything  I can to keep supporting them.”

He added there are also concerns that the airport could close again in the future and UK troops are in talks with local Taliban commanders.

He said: “We've got to find a way to engage with local Taliban commanders, that is what I authorised my military to do a few days ago. We need to find a way to provide reassurance to people we have obligations to all alternatives if they can't get to the airport.”

Some Afghan women approached our correspondent in a desperate attempt for help to escape the country, as John Irvine reports

Mr Johnson and Mr Biden have both been criticised for the handling of Afghanistan during the emergency debate in the UK's Parliament.

The prime minister defended his decision to pull out British troops, saying it was an “illusion” to think the mission could have continued without US forces.

Biden said there wasn't anything he could've done to avoid such chaos over the last few days and stood by the country's withdrawal.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is also facing calls for his resignation, as it was reported help for Afghan interpreters who had supported British troops was delayed because he was on holiday in Crete and unable to make a phone call.

The Taliban, an Islamic militant group, ruled Afghanistan until 2001, after the US and its allies (including the UK) invaded the country for harbouring Al-Qaeda training camps in the wake of 9/11.

But the situation began to get worse in April 2021 when President Joe Biden announced the final withdrawal of US troops from the country.

The Taliban seized of Afghanistan on Sunday as it captured the capital Kabul. The US had been due to withdraw all its troops by the end of August after a costly two-decade war.