Chaos and anxiety in Afghanistan as the radical Taliban have taken over the country at lightning speed. To the great discomfort of the locals and the international community. It led to great chaos during evacuation missions from the airport in Kabul, with two attacks claimed by IS, as a dramatic low. Follow the situation in Afghanistan through our live blog here.
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19.45 — Highest Taliban leader Akhundzada in Afghan city of Kandahar
The highest leader of the new powers in Afghanistan, the Taliban, is in the Afghan city of Kandahar. Hibatullah Akhundzada will soon appear in public, said a spokesperson for the radical Islamic movement.
Akhundzada has never been in the spotlight as a spiritual leader. Thats about to change quickly, according to the Taliban sayman. The whereabouts of the number one were largely unknown. “I can confirm hes in Kandahar. He has lived there,” the spokesperson told AFP news agency. “He will appear in public soon.”
Kandahar is located in the southeast and is the second city in the country, after the capital Kabul. It is the birthplace of the fundamentalist movement and the epicenter of the Taliban reign of terror in the 1990s.
Akhundzada applies to the Taliban as the so-called Commander of the Believers. He has been a leader since 2016, when foreign military forces still played a major role in Afghanistan and the movement was in crisis.
He hasnt made any explanation since the Taliban came to power in mid-August and took control of Afghanistan. The Taliban have a long history of keeping their top leader in the shadow. The enigmatic founder of the group, Mullah Mohammad Omar, was notorious for his hermit behavior and rarely traveled to Kabul when the group was in power in the 1990s. Instead, Omar remained largely out of sight in Kandahar, barely willing to receive visitors.
19.30 — Air strike
The United States has carried out an air strike on suspected terrorists from the Afghan branch of Islamic State (IS-K) in the Afghan capital Kabul. The IS-K fighters would have planned to attack the airport at the city, anonymous U.S. officials report. Eyewitnesses talked about an American missile attack.
U.S. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said two extremists had died. He didnt want to go beyond saying it had been important “planners and escorts” of IS-K. According to the Taliban, the new powers in Afghanistan, the target of the attack was a potential suicide bomber in a vehicle.
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The impact of a residential complex killed two people, including a child. Three others were injured. That reports news agency AP.
Images posted on social media show black puffs.
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The airport was targeted by an attack earlier this week, which, according to unofficial sources, may have killed 170. Thirteen U.S. soldiers were also killed.
U.S. President Joe Biden warned about new attacks after the airport massacre. The Americans have now begun the final phase of their retreat from the country. The new powers, the Taliban, were agreed to leave Afghanistan by Tuesday (31 August).
19.02 — Biden commemorates 13 dead US soldiers
U.S. President Joe Biden commemorated the thirteen American soldiers who died in the attack in Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday. That attack, Thursday, reportedly killed more than a hundred people.
During the ceremony, which took place on a military base two hours away from Washington, Biden swore to go after the perpetrators. On Saturday, the US reported that they had killed two IS-K militants involved in the attack in a drone attack. The Taliban condemned that American attack, which took place in the eastern Nangarhar province that lies against the border with Pakistan.
The Ministry of Defense had announced the identity of the thirteen soldiers who died on Saturday afternoon. Of these, five were twenty years old, a sad detail because the war in Afghanistan lasted twenty years. One of the soldiers killed was a 23-year-old woman who was a week beforeHer death was photographed with a baby in her arms during the chaotic evacuations at Kabul Airport.
While Biden and his wife Jill were in conversation with relatives of the dead soldiers after the ceremony, the Department of Defense reported that the United States Army had destroyed a vehicle in Kabul on Sunday with a new drone attack. This would eliminate “immediate threat” by the Afghan branch of Islamic State (IS-K) against Kabul Airport.
15.45 — Afghanistan veterans gathered to discuss tensions
Soldiers who have been on mission in Afghanistan met in Doorn on Sunday at the Dutch Veterans Institute to discuss the tensions caused by current developments in the country. Thirty men and women shared their own experiences in Afghanistan and discussed the crisis, as most countries have withdrawn their military presence in the country. The institute will organise more meetings and also organise separate meetings for veteran partners and children, said Colonel Ludy de Vos, former director of the Veterans Institute and responsible for veteran recognition and appreciation.
The institute has noticed in recent weeks that many veterans needed to visit each other to talk. “This closed meeting met that need. Most people were talking to others about their mission in two minutes. Everyone felt comfortable among others who share the same feelings. We had deliberately not organized a programme so that there was as much time as possible for conversations,” says De Vos, also Afghanistan veteran himself.
According to De Vos Sunday it turned out that “home front” would like to meet. “With all the news about Afghanistan, some veterans have caused tensions. The home front has to do with that and thats not always easy. At least were going to organise something online especially for them and well have a meeting.”
In the Netherlands, 0.6 percent of the population is veteran, according to De Vos. Some of them still work in the armed forces, others are retired or later opted for a job outside the army.
04.57 – “Quieter around Kabul Airport after US for attack warning”
The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has once again called on Americans to stay away from the airport in Kabul due to a “specific, real threat.” An anonymous airport security officer reports to Reuters news agency that groups of people at the airport gates have narrowed down since the latest warnings about a possible new terrorist attack.
According to him, about 1000 civilians still need to be evacuated at the airport by the Americans. In addition, according to The New York Times, 4,000 U.S. soldiers are now present at the airport. On Saturday, a total of about 2000 people flew from Kabul by Western forces. Friday it was 6800 people.
President Biden warned on Saturday of another attack at the airport of the Afghan capital Kabul. He said he relies on American commanders who claim that an attack is highly likely in the next 24 to 36 hours.
An attack on Thursday at the airport demanded dozens of lives. At least thirteen U.S. soldiers died, and 170 Afghans according to unconfirmed reports. The situation on the spot is extremely dangerous and the threat of terrorist attacks at the airport remains great, according to Biden in a statement.
The President has instructed the commanders to “take all possible measures” to protect US troops. They have all the authority, resources and plans to protect “our men and women”, says Biden. But civilian evacuations continue despite “the treacherous situation in Kabul.”
Biden also announced new retaliatory attacks against the perpetrators of the attack, the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terror movement (IS). “This battle was not the last,” the president said about the US drone attack early Saturday morning at IS-Khorasan, killing two headpieces. “I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we did. We will continue to track every person involved in that gruesome attack and make them pay.”
02.17 – France and Great Britain want safe zone in Kabul
France and the United Kingdom to establish a so-called “safe zone” in the Afghan capital Kabul, from which humanitarian aid can continue under United Nations protection. The two countries will present a resolution on Monday if there is aurgently discussed by the permanent members of the UN Security Council, French President Emmanuel Macron announces.
“This is very important. This would provide a framework for the United Nations to act in an emergency,” says Macron to French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. Such a safe zone in Kabul also makes it possible, as an international community, to pressurize the radical Alislamic Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan.
France ended its evacuation mission in Kabul on Friday. That of the United Kingdom came to an end on Saturday. Macron said earlier this weekend that talks are being held with the Taliban to “protect and repatriate” Afghans at risk when Americans left the country on August 31. The French President hopes for the help of Qatar, which maintains good ties with the Taliban.
00.28 — Last British soldiers left Afghanistan
The last British soldiers in Afghanistan have left the country, the Department of Defense reports. This has put an end to the UKs military presence in Afghanistan, which lasted 20 years. More than 450 British soldiers died in Afghanistan during that period. Earlier on Saturday, the British evacuation operation from Kabul Airport was terminated.
” 20 years ago, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (2001), the first British military man set foot on Afghan ground to create a better future for the country and all its inhabitants,” quotes Sky News Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “The departure of the last British soldiers from the country is a moment to dwell on everything we have sacrificed and everything we have accomplished over the past two decades. The nature of our involvement in Afghanistan may have changed, but our goals for the country are not.”
The British Ambassador to Afghanistan and the Embassy Team will continue their work temporarily from Qatar. The British Government has announced that the diplomatic presence in Kabul will be restored as soon as it is safe enough and the political situation in the country permits.
Britain has been able to evacuate nearly 15,000 people from the Taliban-occupied capital in two weeks. Yet the British have failed to get everyone who wanted to. On Friday, defense spoke of between 800 and 1100 Afghans who are allowed to come to Britain but are trapped in the Asian country. Also 100 to 150 British people had not been evacuated at that time. More than a thousand British soldiers were at the height of the evacuations in Kabul to arrange the mass exodus.
The Americans have also embarked on the final stage of their retreat from Afghanistan. It is planned that the soldiers left before August 31 (next Tuesday). Only the airport is owned by the Americans.
Welcome to Sunday 29 August live blog. Check out yesterdays blog here.