Photos: Hundreds pour onto the tarmac at Kabul’s international airport

Afghans sit on the tarmac
Afghans sit on the tarmac on Aug. 16 as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the Taliban’s feared hard-line brand of Islamist rule.
(Wakil Koshar / AFP/Getty Images)

Afghans panic and try to flee Monday after Kabul fell to the Taliban


Wrenching scenes unfolded Monday at Kabul’s airport as thousands of Afghans tried to flee the Taliban takeover of the country, clambering over barriers, thronging the tarmac and even clinging to the side of a U.S. military transport plane before falling off. At least seven people were reported to have died in the chaos.

The American military has taken control of the evacuation of diplomatic staff and allies, in a harrowing capstone on the two-decade U.S. military mission, but the deadly tumult left the airlift effort in crisis. The Taliban controls all land crossings out of the country, and for now, the capital’s airport is the only evacuation route.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that two “armed Afghans” were killed by U.S. forces in the vicinity of the airport, and he said he was evaluating reports that at least one American service member was wounded.

A day after the Taliban assumed control of the capital and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, most people in the capital cowered in their homes, staying out of sight. In the early morning, normally traffic-choked streets were eerily empty as Taliban fighters, many clad in sandals and traditional shalwar kameez, wielded automatic weapons on the streets and in city squares.


People climb atop a plane at the international airport in Kabul.
(AFP/Getty Images)
A U.S. soldier points his gun at an Afghan at the Kabul airport.
(Wakil Kohsar / AFP/Getty Images)
People thronging the airport tarmac in Kabul are visible from a satellite.
This satellite photo shows people on the tarmac at Kabul’s international airport.
(Maxar Technologies)
People sit at the Kabul airport.
People sit as they wait to leave the Kabul airport.
(AFP/Getty Images)
A U.S. plane is packed with Afghan citizens.
Afghan citizens pack inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, as they are transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan.
(Capt. Chris Herbert / U.S. Air Force )
Afghans climb over a tall barrier
Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the capital.
(Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A volunteer carries an injured man
A volunteer carries an injured man as other people wait at the Kabul airport.
(Wakil Kohsar / AFP/Getty Images)
A large group of Afghans sits on paved ground
Passengers sit as they wait to leave the Kabul airport.
(AFP/Getty Images)

Text by Marcus Yam and Laura King.
Photo editing by Jacob Moscovitch.