• Sunday, Sep 25, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Another Afghan evacuation flight leaves as UN warns of Taliban 'reprisals'

  • Published at 04:34 pm September 10th, 2021
Kabul airport
Passengers enter in a shuttle bus before boarding a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021 AFP

The plane departed the day after just over 100 passengers, left Kabul airport

A second charter flight left Afghanistan on Friday carrying foreigners and Afghans to Qatar in a sign the country's main airport was close to resuming commercial operations, as the United Nations warned of "credible allegations" of reprisal killings by the Taliban. 

The plane departed the day after just over 100 passengers, including some Americans, left Kabul airport on the first flight carrying foreigners out of the Afghan capital since a US-led evacuation ended on August 30.

The White House said the Taliban had been "businesslike and professional" in allowing the flight to leave, but the United Nations envoy for Afghanistan warned the group may be targeting perceived enemies.

"We are also concerned that despite the many statements granting general amnesties... there have been credible allegations of reprisal killings," envoy Deborah Lyons said in New York.

She said Afghan security officials and people who worked for the previous administration were at risk.

Unconfirmed reports in the capital, meanwhile, suggested the Taliban may hold a ceremony to swear in the new government on Saturday-- the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that triggered the end of their first stint in power.

The French foreign ministry said French nationals and their families made up 49 of the passengers onboard on Friday's flight.

As news of a resumption in evacuation flights spread, some people gathered at the airport gates, pleading with Taliban guards to get in. 

Many Afghans in the capital are fearful of a repeat of the hardline Islamist group's brutal and repressive rule from 1996-2001. 

The Taliban have already begun to segregate men and women students and medical staff, suggested women will be banned from playing sports, and unveiled an all-male government drawn exclusively from loyalist ranks. 

Meanwhile, the Taliban have executed the brother of Amrullah Saleh, the former Afghan vice president who became one of the leaders of anti-Taliban opposition forces in the Panjshir valley, his nephew said on Friday.

The news that Saleh's brother Rohullah Azizi was killed came days after Taliban forces took control of the provincial centre of Panjshir, the last province holding out against them.

On Friday, the head of Britain's MI5 domestic spy service said, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will provide a "morale boost" to extremists plotting attacks elsewhere, and could again give them a base to operate as they did in the run-up to 9/11.

Flow of aid and people

More than 100 passengers were on the Qatar Airways flight that landed in Doha on Thursday evening, 10 days after a mammoth, chaotic airlift of more than 120,000 people came to a dramatic close with the US pullout.

In the days that followed the Taliban's blitz, the airport had become a tragic symbol of desperation among Afghans terrified of the militants' return to power -- with thousands of people crowding around its gates daily, and some even clinging to jets as they took off.

At least 170 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.

Qatar has said it worked with Turkey to swiftly resume operations at Kabul's airport to allow the flow of people and aid.

The Taliban have repeatedly claimed they would not seek revenge against those who worked with the previous regime -- and all Afghans would be granted free passage out of the country when commercial flights resume.  

The militants have pledged a more moderate brand of rule, 20 years after being kicked out of power by a US-led invasion.

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

Earlier this week, armed Taliban militants dispersed hundreds of protesters, sometimes by firing shots into the air, in cities across Afghanistan, including Kabul, Faizabad in the northeast and Herat in the west, where two people were shot dead.

They also moved to snuff out any further civil unrest, saying protests would need prior authorization from the justice ministry and no demonstrations were allowed "for the time being."

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