Kabul’s airport reopened early Tuesday Afghanistan time after being closed for hours by US forces following a breakdown in security on the tarmac that interrupted evacuation operations, a US general said.
The airport reopened at 1935 GMT Monday, said Major General Hank Taylor, a logistics specialist on the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He said a C-17 transport aircraft had landed with US Marines aboard, and a second one loaded with an army unit was to land soon, to help establish security for the airport.
Taylor said the United States was “in charge of air traffic control” at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) for military and commercial flights.
He added that there were already about 2,500 US troops in Kabul to help organize the evacuation of thousands of Americans and Afghans who worked for them as translators and in other jobs.
By the end of Monday, US time, he said there could be 3,000 to 3,500 on the ground.
The Pentagon says US Forces are now in charge of air traffic control and the perimeter of Kabul’s airport.
The military is aiming to ramp up flights using planes able to carry up to 300 people at a time, lifting peak evacuation capacity to as many as 5000 passengers a day.
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“Our focus right now is to maintain security at HKIA, to continue to expedite flight operations while safeguarding Americans and Afghan civilians,” he said.
The airport was shut down Monday after crowds of civilians surged onto the runways, the Pentagon said.
Videos taken from the airport showed hundreds of Afghans flooding onto the runways and trying to impede the takeoff of one of the US transports.
Meanwhile two armed Afghan men were killed by US forces as thousands sought to board flights.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk