CNN’s chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, reported that Taliban militants were prepared to “pistol-whip” a CNN field producer before a comrade intervened and prevented an attack.
“Two Taliban fighters came up with their guns, and they were ready to whip him, and we had to step in and shout, and it was actually another Taliban fighter who came in and said, ‘No, no, no, no.’ to do that. They are journalists, ”Ms Ward reported from Kabul on Wednesday.
“There was a constant stream of gunfire,” Ward said earlier in describing the situation in the Afghan capital.
He added that his team was “approached” by people asking for help to leave the country.
“It’s so heartbreaking – everyone comes up to us with their papers, their passports, saying ‘please, I worked at Camp Pheonix, I worked at this camp, I was a translator, help me get in, help me get to America, help me get my SIV – my visa, to leave the country ‘. And then the Taliban would just come, at one point, this fighter just raised his gun in the air like he was about to start shooting, so we had to run and take cover, ”Ms. Ward recounted.
Describing the “scariest moment” for the CNN team, Ward said field producer Brent Swails was filming on his iPhone when two Taliban fighters approached, ready to attack Swails. The rest of the CNN team intervened along with another Taliban fighter who told the others not to attack reporters.
“I’ve covered all kinds of crazy situations, this was chaos,” Ms. Ward said.
Describing the scene outside the Kabul airport, he said: “This was crazy. This is impossible for an ordinary civilian, even if they have their paperwork, by no means are they running that gauntlet, by no means are they going to be able to get around that. It is very risky, it is very dangerous and it is completely unpredictable, there is no order, there is no coherent system to process people, separating those who have papers from those who do not have them ”.
“Honestly, for me, it is a miracle that more people have not been very, very, seriously injured,” added Ms. Ward.
The Biden administration faces the daunting task of removing tens of thousands of vulnerable Americans and Afghans still in the country before the official US withdrawal date of August 31.
Officials from across the federal government held briefings Tuesday but did not answer some basic questions. It is not yet clear how many Americans are still in Afghanistan and a specific answer has not been provided on how many vulnerable Afghans the US military believes can leave the country.
“There have been cases where we have received reports of people being rejected or pushed, or even beaten,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Tuesday. “We are talking about it on a channel with the Taliban to try to solve those problems. And we are concerned about whether that will continue to develop in the coming days. “
“As things are at the moment, what we are discovering is that we are getting people through the door, we are lining them up and putting them on the planes, but this is an hour by hour problem, and it is something that “We are lucid and very focused on holding the Taliban accountable for fulfilling their commitment,” he added.