U.S., Germany steer citizens away from Kabul airport

The United States and Germany on Saturday advised their nationals in Afghanistan to avoid traveling to Kabul airport, citing security risks as thousands gathered trying to flee the country almost a week after Taliban Islamists took control.

This warning comes as crowds have grown at the airport over the past week with people pleading to be allowed to leave.

Video obtained by Reuters shows Afghan special forces - on Wednesday - firing gunshots to prevent Afghans from entering the airport.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Saturday was asked if the window of opportunity to get people out is closing:

“I think we've been very honest about the fact that we know that we're fighting against both time and space. That's really -that's the race that we're in right now. And we're trying to do this as quickly and as safely as possible.”

A U.S. Embassy advisory said Americans should avoid the Kabul airport gates (quote) “unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so."

The German Embassy also advised its local citizens not to go to the airport, warning in an email that the Taliban were conducting increasingly strict controls around the airport.

The Taliban - who are trying to hammer out a new government - have urged those without travel documents to go home.

According to NATO and Taliban officials, at least 12 people have been killed in and around the single runway airfield since Sunday.

A senior U.S. military official said there had been short periods in the last 24 hours when the gates to Kabul airport have been closed, but no reported change in the "enemy" situation in and around the airfield.

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