Reaching the airport would be the most difficult part, and it was something we decided we had to do together.
We hadn’t seen each other since the Taliban took over the capital, and the reunion — after so much anxiety, fear and change — was emotional. On a dusty gravel road lined by concrete barriers outside the airport, we embraced. It was one of the first moments of joy and relief in a long time. Everyone was in tears.
Next, we had to make a run for the military side of the airport, a part of the city quickly becoming the most dangerous.
The night before, Taliban fighters had stormed a crowd waiting outside the terminal, beating men, women and children attempting to flee the country. By morning, the militants had set up checkpoints and deployed dozens of fighters to block roads leading to the airport. One of those checkpoints was a just a few hundred yards from the compound where I was staying.
“Why do you want to leave the country? What are you, traitors?” the militants screamed at a crowd forming beside one of the main airport entrances, known as Abbey gate, in a scene witnessed by Washington Post reporter Aziz Tassal. One fighter slapped a man who approached the barrier, and another was struck with the butt of a rifle.
Washington Post editors had arranged seats for staffers and their families on a charter flight set to leave within hours, but getting to the flight would require entering through that same gate. Our chances of making it through the gate safely and then onto the plane were slim. But the crowds at the airport were growing by the day, and the Taliban was becoming more brutal.
We decided it was worth a shot….
It is good to read about the good experiences the group had with soldiers from the UK and US in their journey…
It is also good to remember a media Bureau chief gets treated much better them others trying to leave the Afghan country….