Harrowing footage has emerged of Afghan mothers throwing their babies over barbed wire at Kabul Airport as they begged British troops to save them from the Taliban.
“The mothers were desperate, they were getting beaten by the Taliban. They shouted, ‘Save my baby!’ and threw the babies at us. Some of the babies fell on the barbed wire,” a Parachute Regiment officer told the UK’s Independent.
“It was awful what happened. By the end of the night there wasn’t one man among us who was not crying,” he added quietly.
The heartbreaking scene unfolded as locals also handed their children to US soldiers on the other side of an airport wall in hopes of getting them placed on evacuation flights from the embattled capital.
A White House official said late Wednesday that about 1,800 people had been evacuated on 10 C-17 flights over the prior 24 hours, far from the 5,000 to 9,000 people the Pentagon estimated could be evacuated in a day if all was going smoothly.
In total, the official added, nearly 6,000 people have left the war-torn country since Saturday.
A senior British officer told Sky News that the paratroopers had no choice but to block a road with vehicles and barbed wire while families with children risked their lives to rush by Taliban fighters who beat them.
“It was terrible, women were throwing their babies over the razor wire, asking the soldiers to take them — some got caught in the wire,” the officer told a Sky News reporter. “I’m worried for my men, I’m counseling some, everyone cried last night.”
One woman, whose husband joined the Taliban and beat her, made it through a barricade while clutching her 4-year-old daughter’s hand and a UN letter identifying them as victims, the outlet reported.
“Afghanistan is Taliban. Taliban is terrorist. My husband is a terrorist Talib,” she said. “America, Canada, France, me and just my daughter… Anywhere! Any country.”
A British officer decided to enter her into the system.
“I can put her into the system, but I don’t know if the system will spit her out, but I can do that at least,” Maj. Steve White told Sky News.
One Taliban checkpoint at the entrance to a narrow road near the airport has become known for cruel militants beating up Afghans — and sometimes tearing up their passports and other travel documents, the Independent reported.
“This is what they did to me,” Amir Akhbar Mohammed told the news outlet as he pointed to bruises on his arms and right shoulder.
“I was with my family, one of the Taliban got angry at something my wife said and started beating her with a stick. I got these injuries trying to protect her. The man was actually trying to reach around me to hit her. They seem to like hitting women,” he said.
Shahanaz Nasimi was one of the women reportedly beaten.
She arrived outside the Baron hotel near the airport with her 23-year-old brother Shafitullah after their home in Baghlan was raided by the insurgents who she said killed two brothers, Basitullah, 15, Akhitullah, 28, the Independent reported.
Nasimi said she had worn a black abaya to ensure that the Taliban did not think she was dressed improperly but believes her beating was due to her going to the airport.
“I thought if we got here there would be a chance that one of the countries would take us,” she told the paper. “Our family has suffered, we can show proof that the Taliban had been targeting us and they will try to hurt us again.”
Several people helped Nahimi, who spoke English, to explain her case to officials.
“I hope they are all right, they all deserve to get away from here. But won’t anyone help me? I am young and I want to have a free life. That is not going to happen for me now in Afghanistan,” she said.
“If we don’t get any country to take us, maybe the soldiers will turn us away from this area. That means we’ll have to go back down that road again, face the Taliban again, I can’t do that,” she added.