Staff at the US Embassy in Kabul are “deeply disheartened” by botched evacuation efforts in Afghanistan – at least one said he would rather “die under Taliban bullet” rather than being crushed to death at the airport, according to a report.
Staff members accused the United States of treason after being ordered to go to the airport – but instead suffered a “brutal experience” without protection, diplomatic cable says obtained by NBC News.
They complained to the State Department that they were attacked and spat by Taliban fighters at checkpoints near the airport and also targeted by criminals, NBC said.
Others said they almost lost their children in the scramble to flee the brutal Taliban regime, while some were hospitalized after collapsing into crowds. Others said they collapsed on the road from heat exhaustion, NBC said.
“It would be better to die under the bullets of the Taliban” than to face the crowd again, said a staff member in the cable.
Another said, “Happy to die here, but with dignity and pride. “
At least one staff member also said his home had been tagged with spray paint – a Taliban tactic to mark homes with people to be interviewed, the cable reportedly said. This family fled and could not make it to the airport, NBC said.
The cable was sent on Saturday, according to the network – a day before at least seven people, including a young child, were crushed to death in some of the most heartbreaking scenes in the attempted mass exodus.
On Monday, an Afghan guard was shot and several others injured when a shootout erupted, apparently after a sniper attack, fearing ISIS might also try to take advantage of the chaos. Others died while clinging to departing US military planes.
A State Department spokesperson insisted to NBC that the United States has a “special commitment” to local embassy staff who “have been through hardship, pain and suffering. losses because of their dedication to working with us to build a better future for all Afghans ”.
The United States has “worked tirelessly to improve access to the airport” and to help those eligible for flights, the spokesperson said.
President Biden attempted to deflect international outrage over the humanitarian crisis on Sunday, saying the evacuation was always “going to be difficult and painful, no matter when it started.”
“It would have been true if we had started a month ago, or in a month. There is no way to evacuate so many people painlessly and without losing heartbreaking images that you see on television, ”he said.
The White House said that since Aug. 14, the United States has helped evacuate around 37,000 people.
With post wires