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U.S. military, which assumed control of the airport and all air traffic operations on Sunday, suspended all flights until security could be restored

U.S. troops shot and killed two men they say were armed at Hamid Karzai International Airport and at least three Afghans were killed as they clung to the side of a departing jet Monday, U.S. officials said, a sign of the chaos at the Kabul airport in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.


In two incidents, armed men approached U.S. troops providing security at the airport Monday and were shot and killed, officials said. The troops weren’t injured, officials said. Few details about the incidents were available, and the armed men were not identified. Military officials said they couldn’t confirm that the armed individuals were members of the Taliban.

U.S. officials have said the troops in the airport reserve the right to defend themselves, and if Taliban or other individuals interfere with operations there, they will use lethal force if necessary.

Also Monday, at least three Afghans who were holding on to the side of a C-17 transport jet as it moved across a runway in Kabul were killed when they fell off the side of the fuselage and were run over, U.S. officials said.

President Biden will return to the White House on Monday to deliver remarks on Afghanistan, the White House said. Mr. Biden had been scheduled to remain at Camp David, where he spent the weekend, until Wednesday.

The Kabul airport has become a dramatic focal point for security in the country as the U.S. scrambles to restore order there amid a worsening, chaotic situation. The U.S. is flying thousands of U.S. troops into Kabul so that it can evacuate all American personnel as well as Afghan interpreters and others who have assisted the U.S. and nongovernmental organizations over the years.

But that operation gained more urgency after the fall of the country on Sunday. U.S. military operations became significantly impeded by the complete breakdown of security at the airport complex, which includes both a civilian and military component.

After announcing the complete withdrawal of American forces in April, Mr. Biden on Thursday authorized the temporary redeployment of up to 9,000 troops to assist with the complete evacuation of American personnel and Afghans and personnel from allied countries.

Over the last three days, the Biden administration authorized more troops for the Kabul airport, but only a portion of them had arrived in part because of the lack of security on the ground. There are now approximately 2,500 American troops on the ground, with thousands more headed there over the next several days, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at the Pentagon on Monday.

But the U.S. military, which assumed control of the airport and all air traffic operations on Sunday, suspended all flights until security could be restored, officials said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kirby said the Pentagon would use two more military air bases to house Afghan interpreters who worked for the U.S. and others outside of Afghanistan, in addition to one in Fort Lee, Va. In recent weeks, thousands of interpreters and other Afghan former U.S. government workers and their families have arrived in the U.S.

Mr. Kirby declined to identify the two American military bases. He acknowledged, however, that some Afghan interpreters had already been flown to a third country. He didn’t identify the country but U.S. officials have previously said a base in Qatar would be used to temporarily house Afghan refugees.

The U.S. military took over security of Hamid Karzai International Airport to facilitate a massive airlift of foreign diplomats and citizens after the Afghan government collapsed on Sunday.

Thousands of desperate Afghans—many of whom used to work for American forces—flocked to the airport as the victorious Taliban combed Kabul for those who had collaborated with the West. Rumors circulated that flights were taking passengers even without passports and tickets.

Video images from the Kabul airport on Monday showed people holding on to a military plane moving along the tarmac and appeared to show two objects or people fall off when the aircraft was hundreds of feet in the air.

“I saw one person grabbing the plane when it moved and then later he fell down,” said a man at the airport.

Witnesses separately reported seeing three bloodied bodies, including that of one woman, on the ground outside the passenger terminal building. Stranded travelers said these people had been shot.

According to people trapped in the airport, American troops repeatedly shot in the air, launched smoke grenades and flew military helicopters low overhead to drive off the crowds.

Hundreds of Afghan civilians were seen close to the runway and around parked planes Monday, with some hanging from boarding ramps as they scrambled to get into aircraft, hindering evacuation efforts.

Inside the terminal, shops were looted, passengers said, adding to the sense of panic.

Some Taliban fighters entered the airport and frequently shot in the air, terrifying passengers, travelers said.

The Taliban said again Monday that they had issued orders to fighters—whom they call mujahedeen, or holy warriors—that they couldn’t enter homes without owners’ permission.

“Life, property and honor of none shall be harmed but must be protected by the mujahedeen,” said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban, on Twitter.

Separately, another Taliban spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, told the Al Jazeera channel that the form of the new government in Afghanistan would be made clear soon. He also said that the group wants peaceful relations with other countries.

In Kabul, and in some other places, nongovernmental organizations reported that their offices were visited by Taliban fighters, who told them to register their activities with the group.

The Taliban also went Monday to Tolo News, the country’s most prominent private news channel, asked about the weapons kept by the security team at the heavily fortified Tolo offices, and collected firearms that had been issued by the government, the channel said.

“So far they are polite,” Saad Mohseni, director of Tolo’s parent company, said on Twitter. “They have also agreed to keep the compound safe.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called on the Taliban to permit Afghan and foreign nationals who wanted to leave the country to do so and called on Afghanistan’s neighbors to open their borders.

At a U.N. Security Council briefing on Afghanistan, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “all Afghan nationals and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so safely.”

She said the U.S. promises to be generous resettling Afghans in this country, and said she was heartened by other nations’ pledges to do the same.

“Together, we must do everything we can to help Afghanistan, to help Afghans who wish to leave and seek refuge,” she said.

European nations, including France and Germany, said they were moving to evacuate their citizens along with some local Afghan staff, while Russia and Turkey said they would maintain their embassies, as did China.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Monday that 600 U.K. paratroopers and logistical staff had arrived in Kabul to help evacuate people.

About 300 U.K. passport holders have been evacuated. He told the British Broadcasting Corp. that a further 700 people would be evacuated in the next 24 to 36 hours, including Afghan nationals, with another 800 in a similar time period after that. He said the U.K. had the capacity to take out more than 1,000 people a day but that processing speed was limiting the numbers flying out.