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Eyewitnesses to Kabul airport bombing describe ‘total panic’

Medical and hospital staff bring an injured man on a stretcher for treatment after two blasts, which killed at least five and wounded a dozen, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021. (Wakil KOHSAR / AFP)
Medical and hospital staff bring an injured man on a stretcher for treatment after two blasts, which killed at least five and wounded a dozen, outside the airport in Kabul on August 26, 2021. (Wakil KOHSAR / AFP)

Deadly blasts at Kabul airport caused “total panic” among Afghans who had thronged outside in the hope of fleeing to safety, away from the country’s new Taliban rulers.

Wounded men in blood-soaked clothes were ferried away from the scene in wheelbarrows, while a boy clutched the arm of a man with a head injury, in images posted on social media.

“Bodies, flesh, and people were thrown into a canal nearby,” Milad, who was at the scene of the first blast, tells AFP.

“When people heard the explosion there was total panic. The Taliban then started firing in the air to disperse the crowd at the gate,” a second witness says.

“I saw a man rushing with an injured baby in his hands.”

In the confusion, he says he dropped the documents he hoped would help him board a flight with his wife and three children.

“I will never ever want to go (to the airport) again. Death to America, its evacuation, and visas.”

The Pentagon said one explosion was at the Abbey Gate of Kabul airport, and at least one more blast hit the nearby Baron Hotel.

Shortly after, an AFP photographer saw several bodies arriving at a Kabul hospital, and more than a dozen injured.

Women with blood-stained faces and clothes wept, as the wounded were taken into the clinic on stretchers.

Another witness, 26-year-old Akram Lubega, who works for a catering firm, says he heard the explosion and did not know what was happening.

“Of course we are all scared,” the Ugandan national says.

“Everyone is tense and the army is taking positions around the airport.”

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