CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward says she was screamed at by Taliban fighters to cover her face and her producer was nearly pistol-whipped as the violence and chaos on the ground in Kabul escalates.
During a live cross near Kabul airport on Wednesday, Ward gave a harrowing account of the “mayhem” that’s occurring as thousands of Afghans — many who helped the US fight the war — plead with troops to evacuate them.
The 41-year-old TV reporter, who was wearing a hijab, told of how a Taliban fighter armed with a “huge makeshift whip” approached her near the airport perimeter while “shouting at me to cover my face.”
The most terrifying ordeal came when two Taliban fighters tried to pistol-whip her producer for taking a video on his iPhone, Ward said.
She said the producer only managed to escape harm because another insurgent stepped in when he realized they were journalists.
“Honestly, to me, it’s a miracle that more people haven’t been very, very seriously hurt,” Ward said of the violence.
Ward said there was a “consistent stream of gunfire” near the airport where 4,500 US troops are stationed to help evacuate Americans citizens and Afghans trying for special visas in exchange for helping during the war.
“I’ve covered all sorts of crazy situations. This was mayhem. This was nuts,” Ward said.
“This was impossible for an ordinary civilian — even if they have their paperwork. No way they’re running that gauntlet, no way they’re going to be able to navigate that.
“It’s very dicey, it’s very dangerous, it’s completely unpredictable. There’s no order, there’s no coherent system for processing people.”
Footage has emerged in recent days showing thousands of people waving papers at US troops that prove they helped the US during the decades-long war.
Many fear they will be killed by the Taliban if they are left behind.
Only 2,000 people — including 325 American citizens — were evacuated from Afghanistan on 18 flights over the past 24 hours, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.
It is significantly less than the 5,000 to 9,000 people the US are aiming to get out per day.
Kirby admitted he didn’t know how many Americans were stranded there.
Ward’s close encounter with insurgents on Wednesday came as the State Department issued a joint statement with 20 other countries calling on the Taliban to “guarantee” the protection of Afghan women and girls.
The statement said “any form of discrimination and abuse … should be prevented.”
“We are deeply worried about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work and freedom of movement. We call on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to guarantee their protection,” the statement read.
“We in the international community stand ready to assist them with humanitarian aid and support, to ensure that their voices can be heard.
“We will monitor closely how any future government ensures rights and freedoms that have become an integral part of the life of women and girls in Afghanistan during the last 20 years.”
The stern statement comes after an Afghan woman was shot dead Tuesday for not wearing a burqa in public — despite the Taliban vowing to usher in a new “inclusive” era that honors “women’s rights.”