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British military: Seven Afghan civilians killed in Kabul airport chaos

Crowds have grown at the airport over the past week, hindering operations as the United States and other nations attempt to evacuate thousands of their diplomats and civilians as well as numerous Afghans.

A US Marine assists evacuees during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 20, 2021. (AP)

The chaos around Kabul’s international airport saw another seven Afghan civilian killed in crowds, the British military has said, showing the danger still posed to those trying to flee the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

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There have been stampedes and crushing injuries in the crowds, especially as Taliban fighters fire into the air to drive away those desperate to get on any flight out of the country.

“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Sunday.

A NATO official said at least 20 people have died in the past seven days in and around the Kabul airport during the evacuation effort.

Crowds have grown at the airport in the heat and dust of the day over the past week, hindering operations as the United States and other nations attempt to evacuate thousands of their diplomats and civilians as well as numerous Afghans.

Daesh threat

The announcement comes as a new, perceived threat from Daesh in Afghanistan has seen US military planes do rapid, diving combat landings at the airport surrounded by Taliban fighters.

Other aircraft have shot off flares on takeoff, an effort to confuse possible heat-seeking missiles targeting the planes.

The changes come as the US Embassy issued a new security warning on Saturday telling citizens not to travel to the Kabul airport without individual instruction from a US government representative.

Officials declined to provide more specifics about the Daesh threat but described it as significant. They said there have been no confirmed attacks as yet by the militants, who have battled the Taliban in the past.

Daesh has been active in Afghanistan for a number of years, carrying out waves of horrific attacks, mostly on the Shia minority.

The group has been repeatedly targeted by US air strikes in recent years, as well as Taliban attacks.

But officials say fragments of the group are still active in Afghanistan, and the US is concerned about it reconstituting in a larger way as the country comes under divisive Taliban rule.

Despite the US Embassy warning, crowds remain outside the Kabul airport’s concrete barriers, clutching documents and sometimes stunned-looking children, blocked from flight by coils of razor wire.

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