US and NATO soldiers were spotted at Islamabad Airport on Sunday after they arrived on a special flight from Kabul as evacuations draw to a close. Photographs of the troops were shared widely on social media and it was reported that the troops would be shifted to hotels in Islamabad before being placed on flights back home.
Reports of presence of American troops in Islamabad drew mixed reactions on social media. Some lauded Pakistan for emerging as a “reliable anchor for the world” during this chaotic time. Others criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for reneging on his promise that US military presence will be allowed in Pakistan. “Absolutely not!” the prime minister had said in this regard.
Meanwhile, rocket attacks were reported at Kabul airport on Sunday; however, operations at the airport remained unaffected as the rockets were intercepted before they caused any damage.
US officials say as many as five rockets were fired at the airport but were intercepted by a missile defense system. Reports from Afghan media suggest that the rocket attack was mounted from the back of a vehicle. Pajhwok News Agency reported that several rockets struck different parts of the Afghan capital.
As many as 114,400 people – including foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans – have been evacuated from Afghanistan since August 15, when Kabul fell to the Taliban. However, tens of thousands of Afghans are at the risk of being left behind.
US officials have told Reuters that the evacuations will continue on Monday.
Taliban condemn drone strike
A Taliban spokesman has spoken out against the United States over a US drone strike targeting a suspected suicide bomber in Kabul. He said the strike had resulted in civilian casualties and that the US did not inform the Taliban before ordering the strike.
Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told China’s state television CGTN on Monday that seven people were killed in the drone attack, describing the US action on foreign soil as unlawful.
“If there was any potential threat in Afghanistan, it should have been reported to us, not an arbitrary attack that has resulted in civilian casualties,” Mujahid said in a statement to CGTN.