Afghan troops fire shots above crowds at Kabul airport desperate to flee Afghanistan
ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports from Kabul
Afghan soldiers fired in the air and pushed crowds outside Kabul airport away as desperate civilians tried to flee the country in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
Videos posted on social media showed Afghan soldiers firing over people's heads as American troops lined up in front of a gate. Frustration was building at the airport as lines of US troops formed a barrier to crowds wishing to get onto the runway.
Frightened civilians at Kabul airport disperse as Afghan soldiers shoot into the air
One American soldier can be heard shouting at a crowd: "Sit the f*** down!".
Another widely shared video showed a desperate mother at the airport passing her baby over a wall to a US Marine. A spokesman from the Marine Corps, Major Jim Stenger, confirmed that the Marine was a member of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and said the baby was “cared for by medical professionals.”
The baby was later reunited with its father, and they are safe at the airport, Stenger said.
An American soldier yells an expletive at the crowd
With an August 31 US withdrawal deadline looming, tens of thousands remain to be airlifted from the chaotic country. Hundreds of Afghans who lacked any papers or clearance for evacuation congregated outside the airport, adding to the chaos that has prevented even some Afghans who do have papers and promises of flights from getting through.
Earlier in the day, the Spanish government said they were having to allow military planes to leave empty due to the issues at the site.
A desperate mother passes her baby to US soldiers at the airport
Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles said on Friday that a family taken out by Spain had left a daughter behind after losing her in the airport crush.Ms Robles told RNE "nobody's in control of the situation", making safe passage to the airport difficult for those wishing to leave the country.The US has given assurances that its forces will not depart the airport until the last person awaiting evacuation is out, according to Ms Robles.
Taliban fighters and their checkpoints ringed the airport - major barriers for Afghans who fear that their past work with Westerners makes them prime targets for retribution.
According to a UK defence minister, the Taliban is being “officious rather than malicious” in stopping people reaching the airport for evacuation flights.
Defence minister James Heappey also said he hopes the Taliban will be “different this time”, amid widespread reports that its militants have used violence against Afghans – including preventing people reaching the airport to flee.
A total of 963 people have been evacuated from Kabul on the RAF “air bridge” in the last 24 hours, according to the minister.
It is estimated in total more than 18,000 have exited the country since Sunday.
Meanwhile, NATO foreign ministers warned the Taliban not to let Afghanistan become a haven for terrorism, as it did 20 years ago.
"For the last 20 years, we have successfully denied terrorists a safe haven in Afghanistan from which to instigate attacks," the ministers said in a statement after a crisis meeting.
The evacuation process in Afghanistan continues to be "messy, haphazard and disjointed", ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports from Kabul
"We will not allow any terrorists to threaten us. We remain committed to fighting terrorism with determination, resolve, and in solidarity."
The Taliban will, reportedly, not make any announcements on future policy until August 31, the date of the US military departure.
Ahead of Friday prayers, leaders urged imams to appeal for unity and urge people not to flee the country during sermons.
There are, however, reports of targeted killings by the Taliban, increasing fears that they will return Afghanistan to the repressive rule they imposed when they were last in power.These reports are the reason thousands have descended on Kabul's airport and others have made their way to border crossings, desperate to flee.
An Amnesty International repot said the Taliban killed nine ethnic Hazara men in the village of Mundarakht on July 4-6. It said six of the men were shot and three were tortured to death.
An Afghan girl begs US troops for help
Hazaras are Shiite Muslims who were previously persecuted by the Taliban and made major gains in education and social status in recent years.
Reporters without Borders say Taliban fighters killed the relative of an Afghan journalist working for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle on Wednesday."Sadly, this confirms our worst fears," said Katja Gloger. "The brutal action of the Taliban show that the lives of independent media workers in Afghanistan are in acute danger."
In addition fears over Taliban abuses, officials have believe that Afghanistan's already weakened economy could collapse without an injection of massive international aid that sustained the toppled Western-backed government.
The United Nations says there are dire food shortages and experts said the country was severely in need of cash.