At least 27 California school students remain stranded in Afghanistan — along with a 3-year-old boy whose family were badly beaten by the Taliban while trying to flee with his family, according to reports.
Officials say at least 24 students are still stranded from one district in the Sacramento area, while another three in El Cajon have yet to safely escape the war-ravaged country.
Officials from San Juan Unified school district told the Sacramento Bee that its two dozen students still in the Taliban-controlled nation is drastically down from the initial 150.
The area is home to nearly 10,000 Afghan people, accounting for about one out of every nine Afghans in the US, the paper said.
That number was also down after four families — seven adults and 14 children — managed to safely return to their homes in El Cajon, district spokesman Howard Shen told the paper. Another three families are also safely out of Afghanistan and heading home, Shen said.
All of the families were visiting relatives during the summer break and were caught off guard by the sudden takeover by the Taliban and the chaos it sparked for those trying to leave, the paper said.
The district has been “exploring alternative strategies” to get the families out because “the airlift is no longer an avenue,” Shen had told Fox News.
District official Mike Serban warned that “it’s a bigger picture than just our district” amid reports that passports and IDs have been burned, making it difficult to confirm Americans still trapped.
They include a three-year-old boy who was born in Sacremento whose family — also US citizens — say they were attacked by Taliban enforcers as they tried to catch flights from Kabul airport.
“They were stopped by a Taliban checkpoint, and they received physical beatings at the gate,” veterans advocate James Brown told KGO.
“They were pushed back where they had to flee and return to a safe house,” he said.
The young boy’s case frustrated an active duty Marine Corps officer who contacted Brown after he “basically felt like his hands were tied and he needed some help getting this family out.”
They contacted Rep. Jackie Speier whose staff “made numerous phone calls to the White House, to the Secretary of Defense’s Office, and to the Secretary of State’s office escalating this family’s case all the way to the top” — but to no avail, the report said.
The station said the boy and his family were “on the move … without the normal channels of the US government” late Monday, without giving updates on their progress.
The reports come amid almost Biblical scenes of a sea of people marching through barren land trying to reach the land-locked nation’s borders with Iran, Pakistan and central Asian states.
Tens of thousands of Afghans at risk from opposing the Taliban and helping the West remain there after the end of the US-led airlift.
Thousands were waiting for border gates to open at Torkham, a major crossing with Pakistan just east of the Khyber Pass, while others also hoped for a safe haven at the Islam Qala post on the border with Iran.
“I felt that being among Iranian security forces brought some kind of relaxation for Afghans as they entered Iran, compared with the past,” one Afghan who crossed over told Reuters.
With Post wires