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Kamis, 09 September 2021

200 passengers leave Kabul in first airlift since US pullout - NEWS.com.au

As the Taliban transition from militant force to governing power, they face a growing number of protests against their rule

Some 200 passengers, including US citizens, left Kabul airport on Thursday, on the first flight carrying foreigners out of the Afghan capital since a US-led evacuation ended on August 30.

The flight to Doha comes as the Taliban continue their transition from insurgents to governing power, less than a month after they marched into Kabul and ousted former president Ashraf Ghani.

An Afghan-American dual citizen, waiting to board the flight with his family, said the US State Department had called him in the morning and told him to go to the airport.

Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag tweeted to thank the Qatari government "for making this possible", saying 13 of its nationals were on board the flight.

More than 100 people were killed, including 13 US troops, in a suicide attack on August 26 near the airport that was claimed by the Islamic State group's local chapter.

Footage broadcast by Al Jazeera TV on Thursday showed families including women, children and elderly people waiting with suitcases at the airport for their turn to leave.

Qatar has acted as the central intermediary between the Taliban and the international community in recent years, and numerous countries, including the United States, have relocated their embassies from Kabul to Doha in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover.

Away from the airport, there was a noticeably stronger Taliban presence on the streets of Kabul as armed fighters -- including special forces in military fatigues -- stood guard on street corners and manned checkpoints, according to AFP journalists.

Qatar's special envoy to Afghanistan, Mutlaq al-Qahtani, called it a "historic day" for the airport.

Most of the early Afghan evacuees were desperate to flee fearing Taliban reprisals for having worked with foreign powers during the 20-year, US-led occupation.

Earlier Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said only around 100 Americans remained in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have said they will not prevent anyone who wishes to from leaving the country, even as they have urged skilled Afghans, such as doctors and engineers, to remain.

However, they have shown clear signs that they will not tolerate opposition.

Late Wednesday, they moved to snuff out any further civil unrest, saying protests would need prior authorisation from the justice ministry, adding that no demonstrations were allowed "for the time being".

- Promises of inclusion -

All the top positions have been handed to key leaders from the movement and in particular the Haqqani network -- the most violent Taliban faction, known for devastating attacks.

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2021-09-09 12:38:47Z
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