Taliban have not changed, says Biden as US military evacuations reach 7,000 – live | US news

Afghan journalist Ramin Rahman, 27, left on a US military plane at Hamid Karzai international airport. He writes:

The day the Taliban took over started with a call from my friend in Germany. He told me to get to the airport because there was potentially going to be a German embassy evacuation plane leaving that day. He put my name on their evacuation list because I had worked for German media, and I had been in the process of applying for a visa for the past year.

I didn’t have time to think. It felt like a lifeline for me as a progressive, outspoken journalist with tattoos – basically the antithesis of what the Taliban stands for. I took my laptop and phone and nothing else. I felt scared the minute I left my home – I’d never felt so much pressure.

When I reached the airport, the initial checkpoint was eerie. The police had left, and the military was almost all gone. There was only private airport security checking bags. I didn’t have a visa, so I was scared of being turned away – but I couldn’t turn back.

When I reached the international terminal, I was shocked at what I saw, and I started to feel hopeless. There were thousands of people: women and men with their crying babies, struggling over what to do. They were fearful that the Taliban were coming. All these people, including foreigners, went to the airport not knowing what would happen.

The people all around me were panicking as they realized there might not be a plane for them. Even if they had tickets, there was uncertainty around whether their flight would take off. They were frightened. So people started to damage the airport – windows and ticket booths. And from there, the situation just continued to get worse. I hid in a corner, even though I was also panicking.

Looking out the window, I watched a whole scene unravel around an aircraft trying to leave for Turkey. People were streaming into the plane, and even hanging from the stairs. The aircraft was over capacity, and people were being pushed off the stairs so the plane could take off. They were screaming so loud that we could hear them from inside the airport. “We want to go, or we will die,” some shouted. I just watched in horror as I waited, pondering my fate.

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