American University of Kabul students trying to flee couldn’t get to airport: report

Students and alumni of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) attempting to flee the country found they were unable to enter the Hamid Karzai International Airport, The New York Times reported.

According to the Times, current and former students of AUAF gathered a safe house on Sunday and rode on buses to the Kabul airport. However, the were informed after seven hours of waiting for clearance that the airport gates were a security threat and that civilian evacuations would end on Monday, the Times reported.

“I regret to inform you that the high command at HKIA in the airport has announced there will be no more rescue flights,” the AUAF administration told students in an email, according to the Times.

The group was also told the university had given their names to Taliban militants running checkpoints around the airport, the Times reported.

“We are all terrified, there is no evacuation, there is no getting out,” a 24-year-old sophomore at AUAF told the Times.

AUAF president Ian Bickford left the campus when it was shut down shortly after the Taliban takeover of Kabul along with other foreign staff members. The Times reported that Bickford said he is working with the State Department to ensure the evacuation of over a thousand current and former students, though last week’s attack on the airport has complicated this effort.

The State Department declined comment, citing privacy concerns for the individuals involved.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has warned Americans to stay away from airport due to a “specific, credible threat.”

Two suicide bombers detonated explosives near the airport last week, killing 13 U.S. service members and scores of Afghan civilians. 

The Times notes that the AUAF campus was one of the first sites to be taken over by the Taliban when Kabul fell to its forces. The school’s campus had been closed since Aug. 14 when news broke of the Taliban’s forces encroaching on Kabul.

Thousands of Afghans have been evacuated out of the country since the Taliban fell. Many have been sent to third-party countries while many others have arrived in the U.S., with facilities quickly reaching capacity.

The Taliban is reportedly waiting for “the final nod” from the U.S. before proceeding to “secure full control” of the airport, according to an unidentified official who spoke spoke to Reuters.

Tags Afghanistan Afghanistan conflict Afghanistan evacuations American University of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai Kabul Taliban War in Afghanistan
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