Hundreds of evacuees now remain stuck in the airport
While the exact reason why remains unknown, it is believed that the majority of the intended passengers were Afghans, many without passports or visas, Time magazine reported.
A Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, however, has said that a number of Americans are believed to be among the hundreds stranded at the airport in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
BREAKING: At least four planes chartered to evacuate hundreds of people seeking to escape the Taliban have been unable to leave Afghanistan, officials said. There are conflicting accounts as to why the flights were unable to take off. https://t.co/ndjZk3axpn
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 5, 2021
The government source said US citizens were sitting on the planes but the Taliban were not letting them take off, claiming they have, effectively, been “holding them hostage” for a number of days. The veracity of this information is yet to be confirmed.
Although some have managed to leave the airport – Mazar-e-Sharif residents having noted at least ten families at a local hotel and others at restaurants – hundreds more are left in limbo as they wait for the situation to be resolved.
The pressure on US officials to help evacuate those who are still trying to get out of the country is growing. However, all American and British troops – who had been helping with the large-scale evacuation – have now returned following the Taliban’s August 31st deadline.
Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Representative Michael McCaul said: “The Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” adding that he’s worried “they’re going to demand more and more, whether it be cash or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, militant troops are thought to have taken the anti-Taliban stronghold Panjshir. Contrarily, these claims are also being disputed by Ali Maisam, the leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) – he told the BBC: “The Taliban haven’t captured Panjshir I am rejecting Taliban claims”.
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