Afghan, American and German soldiers were involved in an exchange of fire early Monday (Aug. 23) at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan. The gun-battle left one Afghan soldier dead and three more wounded, German military officials said, according to Reuters.
The Afghan Civil Aviation Authority also announced on Monday a suspension of all flights in the Kabul airport until further notice, urging citizens not to attend the airport “in order to avoid crowds and subsequent possible incidents. “The Afghan Civil Aviation Authority is also making effort to resume domestic and international flights”, according to a statement on Facebook.
The Taliban captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan on Aug. 15, regaining control of the country, following a months-long offensive, prompting the US-supported civilian government to collapse.
This, in turn, prompted thousands of people to try to leave the war-torn country seeking to flee Taliban rule.
Ashraf Ghani resigned as president of Afghanistan and left the country for the United Arab Emirates to prevent what he described as bloodshed if the militants stormed the city.
Many countries have since begun evacuating their diplomatic missions and citizens from Afghanistan. A NATO official has said that at least 20 people have died in and around the airport in the past week.
In an interview with British news channel Sky News published on Monday (Aug. 23), Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen stressed that the militant group will not agree to an extension of the evacuation mission from Afghanistan.
“It’s a red line. [US] President [Joe] Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that”, the Taliban spokesman said.
He added: “It [the extension of the troop exit deadline] will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction”.
He also rejected the claim that some Afghan citizens are scared and desperate to leave the country. “I assure you it is not about being worried or scared. They want to reside in Western countries and that is a kind of economic migration because Afghanistan is a poor country and 70% of the people of Afghanistan live under the line of poverty so everyone wants to resettle in Western countries to have a prosperous life.”
The US President told reporters on August 22 that discussions were underway with US military officials about possibly extending the Afghanistan evacuation mission beyond the 31 August deadline.
On Monday (Aug.23), two UK ministers, James Heappey, minister for the armed forces, and James Cleverly, a foreign office minister, told British media Britain was also pushing for the deadline to be pushed beyond August 31 to increase the number of people it can help who want to flee the Taliban.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s exiled central bank chief Ajmal Ahmady said in an interview with Bloomberg that the new Taliban-led government faces a series of shocks that will likely lead to a weaker currency, faster inflation and capital controls.
The Group of Seven advanced economies will meet Tuesday (Aug. 24) over the crisis in Afghanistan.
With reporting by Reuters, Sky News, Bloomberg, Sputnik News