Photos and Videos From Afghanistan – nytimes.com

Thursday, August 26

Aug. 26, 2021, 11:06 a.m. ET

At least two explosions rattled the area outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday, just hours after Western governments had warned of a security threat there.

“We can confirm that the explosion at the Abbey Gate was the result of a complex attack that resulted in a number of US & civilian casualties,” John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a post on Twitter. “We can also confirm at least one other explosion at or near the Baron Hotel, a short distance from Abbey Gate.”

Initial estimates of the dead and wounded differed, and were rising quickly. In a statement, Mr. Kirby said that “a number of U.S. service members were killed” in the attack, and that “a number of others” were wounded.

Graphic video footage from one area showed a chaotic scene in which several people appeared to have been severely injured. In one clip, a person was being loaded into the back of an emergency vehicle. In another, injured people were being hastily moved on gurneys into a hospital.

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Abbey Gate is a main entryway to the international airport. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has warned citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates. The embassy urged Americans who were at the Abbey Gate, East Gate or North Gate entrances to leave immediately.

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Early reports about one of the explosions indicated that it was caused by at least one suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest.

A senior U.S. official had warned on Wednesday night of a “specific” and “credible” threat by an affiliate of the Islamic State, the Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, against the airport.

Thousands of Afghan civilians and foreign citizens have been gathering outside of the airport for days on end hoping to be airlifted out of the country. The scene on Thursday in the hours before the blasts was much the same as it has been for the last week: People crowding the airport gates and waving their paperwork in the air as the U.S. deadline for withdrawal crept ever closer.

Credit…Akhter Gulfam/EPA, via Shutterstock
Credit…Akhter Gulfam/EPA, via Shutterstock

American officials have estimated that roughly 1,500 Americans remain in the country and thousands of Afghan nationals are camped outside. The White House posted on Twitter on Thursday before the explosions that another 13,400 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan during the preceding 24-hour period.

Two U.S. military officials told The New York Times that evacuation flights were continuing Thursday after the blasts, though it was not clear whether any gates at the airport were open.

Photos by Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times and Wali Sabawoon/ The Associated Press. Text by Megan Specia, Eric Schmitt and Matt Stevens.

Wednesday, August 25

Aug. 25, 2021, 4:58 p.m. ET

Lashkar Gah on Saturday.
Credit…Abdul Khaliq/Associated Press

For much of the past week, Kabul and its airport have been the focus of international attention as thousands of people have tried to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban swept into the capital.

But many other cities across the country fell to the Taliban before Kabul was conceded. And in those places, Afghans have been left to assess the wreckage resulting from the Taliban takeover, and to rebuild and contemplate what life will be like moving forward.

The Taliban seized Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, a few days before Kabul fell. But it had been under siege since at least May, when the Taliban began an offensive there as the American withdrawal got underway.

Video footage recently released by Agence France-Presse showed an array of residential and commercial buildings damaged after weeks of fighting between the Taliban and government forces. Other footage showed Afghans beginning repairs.

In one video, Taliban flags are shown flying at a traffic circle in Lashkar Gah.

“All the shops are burned,” one resident said.

“There are some people who say they have lost about 800,000 afghani in investments,” the man said, referring to local currency. “There were 130,000 afghani worth of goods in my shop.”

Video footage out of Logar Province, just south of Kabul, also showed a Taliban flag snapping in the air as residents restarted some of their daily routines.

On the streets of Pul-e-Alam, shopkeepers surveyed inventory and worried aloud about the effect the unrest would have on their businesses.

One man said he hoped the Taliban would restore many of the same people who had been in government jobs that he had grown accustomed to “because they have a lot of experience and know how to do these jobs.”

Photo by Abdul Khaliq/The Associated Press. Videos by AFP and The Associated Press. Text by Matt Stevens.

Aug. 25, 2021, 1:00 p.m. ET

Long lines formed outside banks in Kabul on Wednesday as Afghans clamored to withdraw funds for the first time since the Taliban swept into the city.

The rush on banks, which have been closed for days, underscores the strain Afghanistan finds itself under now that its economy will no longer be propped up by American aid. Cash and fuel have quickly become scarce, and the price of food — which was already is short supply — has risen.

People in line at one bank branch on Wednesday said they needed to access their assets to buy basic staples. They also said they had received conflicting messages about when banks would open, so came just in case.

“We came here today to get money. Not only today, but also yesterday, the banks were closed and we stood in front,” an Azizi Bank customer said. “Some people say they will be open, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

“When the media comes here,” he added, bank officials “say the banks will be opened. But when they leave, the banks are still closed. Our problem has not been solved.”

Photos by Victor J. Blue for The New York Times. Videos by Reuters. Text by Matt Stevens.

Aug. 25, 2021, 12:59 p.m. ET

With President Biden’s deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan just six days away, and the Taliban insisting that the United States must stick to that timeline, enormous crowds continued to cluster at the Kabul airport Wednesday as people desperate to leave the country watched another day melt away.

Pentagon officials said Wednesday that U.S. and allied planes had flown roughly 19,000 people out of Kabul in the past 24 hours. But thousands of U.S. citizens are believed to still be in the country, and tens of thousands of Afghans who qualify for special immigration visas are also waiting to be evacuated.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said on Twitter Wednesday that about 88,300 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug 14.

The United States has started to reduce its military presence at the airport after Mr. Biden signaled on Tuesday that he planned to stick to the Aug. 31 deadline,while leaving open the possibility of an extension.

Photos by Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times. Text by Matt Stevens.

Tuesday, August 24

Aug. 24, 2021, 3:43 p.m. ET

On Tuesday, nine days after the Taliban walked back into power in Kabul, government services were still largely unavailable and residents are struggling to lead their daily lives in an economy that, propped up for the past generation by American aid, is now suddenly in free fall.

While relative calm reigned over the capital, in sharp contrast to the free-for-all at the airport, many residents hid in their homes or ventured out only cautiously to see what life might be like under their new rulers.

Even those who said they feared the Taliban were struck by the relative order and quiet on the streets. But for some, the quiet has been ominous.

Text by Norimitsu Onishi and Sharif Hassan.

Aug. 24, 2021, 3:32 p.m. ET

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“When we came from Afghanistan, it was a miserable circumstance for us and we left our family. I’m so sorry.” Journalist: “No, no, take your time.” “And it was so hard for us because our family there and our country destroyed.” “We really thought that we have to go because we didn’t have any other choice because, serving our country is just by getting educated.”

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CreditCredit…Associated Press

With a deadline to depart looming next week, the U.S. military has quickened the pace of evacuations out of Kabul, moving as many as 11,000 people out of the capital city in one recent 24-hour period. Now many of those who have left Afghanistan have reached the United States, Germany, Spain, Qatar and other countries that have agreed to either serve as temporary transit stops for fleeing Afghans or permanent resettlement locations.

Video footage shows Afghan nationals arriving Monday at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, where one woman wept: “My girls are in Afghanistan,” she said in between sobs, “and I am in America.”

Thousands of miles away, Zarifa Ghafari, one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors, arrived in Düsseldorf, Germany. As an outspoken advocate of women’s rights in Afghanistan, she has often acknowledged that she could be a target for assassination.

Speaking Monday, she thanked the German government for keeping her safe.

“I’m really, really, really thankful to the German government and all people to save my life and my family’s life,” she said, with tears in her eyes.

“I am just here to raise the voice of those 99 percent of people in Afghanistan who are not able to come out of their houses, those women who are not able to work, those women who are not able to speak out.”

Some members of a widely known Afghan girls’ robotics team also have departed the country, and they arrived in Qatar in recent days.

“When we came from Afghanistan it was a miserable circumstance for us,” said Nahid Rahimi, one of the team’s members. “It was so hard for us, because our family is there, and our country is destroyed.”

Some Afghans have sought to flee west to Turkey through Iran but have encountered hostility at the Turkish border. Others have headed east to Pakistan.

In a few cases, Afghans who were in Pakistan say they have been waiting at the border, wishing to re-enter their home country now under Taliban rule.

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“Because of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, we migrated here to Pakistan. Now peace has been established there, so we are asking the Pakistani government, we have our household with women and kids waiting. We want them to cross the border. People want to return, but they are not allowed to cross. We request that the Pakistani government allow us to cross the border because peace has been established, because there’s no war.”

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“We migrated here to Pakistan because of the ongoing war in Afghanistan,” Muhammad Nabi, an Afghan national, said in video provided by Agence France-Presse. “People want to return, but they are not allowed to cross.”

Text by Matt Stevens.

Aug. 24, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET

Overhead images of Kabul’s airport taken on Monday underscore the size of the crowds outside the gates. The area around the airport has been an epicenter of chaos for days, as thousands of Americans, their allies and other Afghans have sought to flee the country after the Taliban swept into the city.

To get to the airport, people have had to navigate various checkpoints, including many controlled by the Taliban.

Some who have managed to gain entrance can be seen waiting on a tarmac on the military side of the airport near an American C-17 aircraft.

Photos by Maxar Technologies, via Reuters. Text by Matt Stevens.

Aug. 24, 2021, 10:58 a.m. ET

Karim (left), 15, Gul Ahmad (center), 14, and Saeed, 15, grew up together in Kharchan, a village in the province of Herat. They were determined to leave home and find better lives.
Credit…Kiana Hayeri for The New York Times

In June, the photojournalist Kiana Hayeri set out to photograph Afghanistan’s post-9/11 generation. She sought to capture their deepening uncertainty about their country’s future as the American withdrawal approached.

Instead she wound up documenting the end of life as they knew it.

Monday, August 23

Aug. 23, 2021, 6:05 p.m. ET

Members of the Taliban and their supporters attended a public event on Monday in Kabul put on by the group’s Preaching and Guidance Commission. At the event, the Taliban’s Minister of Culture and Information, Zabiullah Mujahid, addressed a crowd.

The event was an early demonstration of the central role religion will play under Taliban rule, and another move by the new regime to display its dominance since declaring an Islamic Emirate.

Separately, video footage from Monday showed a Taliban member speaking to a crowd in Kabul, delivering remarks that may similarly offer clues about how the group will try to persuade Afghans to back them in the days ahead.

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Last night, this morning, until 4 p.m. today, the Taliban did not eat. They fought the Americans on empty stomachs. What’s wrong with all of you? We’re all Afghans, and so are you. Where is our pride? Where is our dignity? Where is our honor? Today, we are begging the Americans to take care of us and this is a huge shame. For me, it’s very embarrassing, I’m not sure about you all. [Inaudible] The Americans must leave Afghanistan. We will force them out. We will not allow them here. [Inaudible] I will fight the Americans as long as I’m alive. We defeated the Americans with old guns. This fight requires honor and faith. Thousands of Americans and their puppets are busy trying to keep Afghanistan secure. We don’t have any fear of them. Thousands of tanks … I am looking for one representative amongst you. We will not allow anyone to exploit Afghanistan’s wealth. No one can defeat our forces We will make sure of it.”

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CreditCredit…Reuters

In his remarks, the Taliban member urges Afghans to unite — despite the group’s history of oppressive rule — even as thousands have gathered at the airport hoping to be evacuated. The man appeals to Afghans’ sense of national pride and paints Americans as enemy combatants.

Americans, the Taliban member says, “must leave” the country, or the Taliban, he says, will “force them out.”

Photos by Victor J. Blue for The New York Times. Text by Victor J. Blue, Sarah Kerr and Matt Stevens.

Aug. 23, 2021, 5:53 p.m. ET

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Look at all the destroyed gear. It looks like — that fire right there was the radar for the C-RAM. It looks like they have set that on fire. People destroying hard drives down there at the end. The American flag here is the last one. Every flagpole here used to be a different flag of a different nation, part of the NATO group that was here supporting the efforts in Afghanistan. You see the American flag is the only one left. And that’s only going to be there for a few more hours.

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Garbage bins overflowing with destroyed equipment. Smashed computer parts scattered across the ground. Diplomatic workers burning documents.

Videos and photos taken by several U.S. government contractors and posted to social media, and verified and analyzed by The New York Times, reveal the chaos as Americans rushed to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Kabul early last week as the Taliban swept into the city.

The takeover and the hurried U.S. departure made for a defining moment, capping nearly 20 years of war. But few images have emerged showing how the personnel inside the diplomatic compound quickly mobilized to leave — and leave behind as little as possible that might be of use to the Taliban.

One contractor who filmed the events as they unfolded compared it to the fall of Saigon. The contractor asked not to be identified for fear of losing his job. Many of the posts by contractors were later deleted.

A weapon system intended to protect the U.S. Embassy from incoming rockets, artillery and mortars, known as C-RAM, is seen burning in one of the videos. Another contractor, who asked for anonymity because he could lose his security clearance for talking to the news media, said the equipment was destroyed so the Taliban couldn’t use it.

Similarly, several armored vehicles were left behind in the embassy compound, which was verified by matching up multiple videos from contractors with satellite imagery. The vehicles were left inoperable, according to the contractor.

“Obviously, we don’t want to see any weapons or systems to fall into the hands of people that would use them in such a way to harm our interests or those of partners and allies,” John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said on Monday. “But I don’t have any policy solutions for you today about how we would or could address that going forward.”

It is unclear whether Taliban fighters have entered the embassy compound.

Aug. 23, 2021, 4:30 p.m. ET

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The violence and chaos that erupted in Kabul in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover, spurring protests and a wave of people trying to flee the country, injured an untold number of Afghans. Some of them have wound up in a nearby hospital for treatment, like this one run by the nongovernmental organization EMERGENCY.

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Many of the victims in the wards of this Kabul-area hospital had been shot, and were recovering from gunshot wounds.

Photos by Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times. Text by Matt Stevens.

Aug. 23, 2021, 3:33 p.m. ET

The area around the airport has been a flash point for violence and has become a symbol of the hasty effort to evacuate thousands of people from Afghanistan very rapidly.

That violence continued apace on Monday. A member of the Afghan security forces died in a firefight with unidentified attackers, according to the German military, which also said that three other members of the Afghan forces were wounded in the skirmish outside the airport’s North Gate.

Around the airport, groups of Afghans sat on the hardened ground, seemingly resigned, at least for the moment, to another day of waiting.

Video footage recorded Monday showed people continuing to mill about beneath a relentlessly hot sun. In the afternoon, boys were photographed selling cotton candy to Afghans gathered in a field outside the entrances to the military-controlled side of the airport.

From Sunday to Monday, U.S. military officials said they had transported just under 11,000 people to other countries. Commercial airlines have also started evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from bases in the Middle East at the request of federal officials.

Photos by Victor J. Blue for The New York Times. Video by Anadolu Agency. Text by Matt Stevens.

Aug. 23, 2021, 2:40 p.m. ET

In the days since the Taliban seized control of Kabul, signs of resistance among Afghans have emerged in pockets north of the capital.

Afghan soldiers — sometimes with the aid of villagers — have mounted armed challenges to the Taliban and in some cases successfully driven militants out of districts, according to former Afghan officials. But even Afghans sympathetic to the effort have expressed deep doubts about its prospects to roll back Taliban control.

An analysis of satellite imagery by The New York Times confirmed a buildup of military equipment in Panjshir, which includes a strategic valley that two decades ago held out against the militants. By some estimates, thousands of Afghan soldiers fled to the province following the latest Taliban takeover.

Videos posted to social media showed a parade of cars and motorcycles waving the flag of the Northern Alliance — a military alliance of resistance groups — and several American-made military vehicles being driven north through the valley by Afghan security forces.

But one video circulating on Monday was confirmed to show fighters with a Taliban flag on a bridge over Panjshir River just outside of the province, as the militants say they are moving in on the resistance fighters there.

Photos by Afp – Getty Images and Reuters. Text by Haley Willis and Matt Stevens. Additional reporting by Christiaan Triebert.

Aug. 23, 2021, 10:51 a.m. ET

U.S.-allied forces continued working on Monday at the airport in Kabul, which for days has been a chaotic and sometimes dangerous choke point for those wishing to flee Afghanistan.

British and Canadian soldiers stood guard near a canal as Afghans waited outside the airport, while some helped Afghans climb up on the wall of a canal.

The leaders of the Group of 7 nations are expected to hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation on the ground as violent clashes aggravate the already precarious security situation.

American officials have said at least a dozen countries have been or will be used as brief transit stops for U.S. military flights out of Afghanistan and roughly the same number have pledged to help resettle Afghans.

Photos by Wakil Kohsar/Afp – Getty Images. Text by Matt Stevens.

Sunday, August 22

Aug. 22, 2021, 12:32 p.m. ET

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

A young man sells Taliban flags at the roundabout outside the vacated U.S. embassy in Kabul, one week after the Taliban seized control of the city and American personnel were evacuated from the compound.

A pastel pink and blue mural displaying smiling girls serves as the backdrop. Dari script written on the wall reads: “I am the future of Afghanistan.”

During an earlier era of Taliban rule, officials barred women from working outside the home or leaving the house without a male guardian, eliminated schooling for girls and publicly flogged those who violated the group’s morality code. Since the U.S. ousted the Taliban roughly two decades ago, women and girls have rejoined society in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.

In the past week, Taliban officials have tried to reassure women that things will be different this time around. But it is far from clear whether that will be the case, and the uncertainty threatens the gains of women across Afghanistan.

Text by Matt Stevens.

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Photos and Videos From Afghanistan – nytimes.com

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