August 30 Afghanistan-Taliban news

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Brad Lendon, Jessie Yeung and Sheena McKenzie, CNN

Updated 6:00 a.m. ET, August 31, 2021
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8:24 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Around 15,000 evacuees awaiting travel at US base in Germany

From CNN's Atika Shubert in Ramstein, Germany

Evacuees from Afghanistan are seen at a temporary emergency shelter at the Ramstein Air Base on August 26, in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany.
Evacuees from Afghanistan are seen at a temporary emergency shelter at the Ramstein Air Base on August 26, in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Around 15,000 evacuees from Afghanistan are awaiting onwards travel at the Ramstein US Air Base in Germany, the base’s Public Affairs Office (PAO) said on Monday.

Ramstein is one of the largest US airbases outside America, and has been transformed into a temporary transit point for evacuees to the US.

As of 7.30 a.m local time (1.30 a.m. ET) Monday, approximately 100 US Air Force aircraft have arrived at the base. Within the next 12 hours, approximately 1,700 more evacuees are expected to arrive.

More than 8,000 evacuees have departed on approximately 38 flights from Ramstein Air Base to their resettlement locations, the majority of which are in the US.

Within the next 12 hours, more than 2,000 evacuees are expected to depart Ramstein Air Base, according to the PAO. 

8:24 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

In Italy, evacuees and NGO workers see gains of last 20 years slip away

From CNN's Barbie Nadeau in Rome

In Italy, a recently arrived Afghan refugee tells CNN about what he's accomplished over the past 20 years and his heartache at leaving it all behind.

Dr Arif is a two-time refugee. He first fled Afghanistan in 1993 when he was 32-years-old, walking for weeks to reach safety in Pakistan before eventually moving to Italy.

Dr Arif.
Dr Arif. CNN

He returned in 2006 with the Italian Development Agency to rebuild his country, creating infrastructure like roads and training medical staff.

"It's not that we have lost everything. But the way we have abandoned them -- this is more difficult, more painful," said Dr. Arif.
"We have done many many things. But we should not have abandoned them in this way," he added.

Elsewhere in Italy, Arianna Brigante is chairwoman of the agency Nove Onlus, which has worked in Afghanistan for the last decade to empower women.

Arianna Brigante.
Arianna Brigante. CNN

The group set up a women's driving school in Kabul and provided a shuttle service so women and girls could get home from work and school safely.

"It was a hopeful generation and I've think we've lost that," Brigante told CNN.

She said the Afghan women who Nove Onlus were able to help evacuate were now without hope.

"They don't think there is a future in Afghanistan anymore," Brigante said.

5:06 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

'These were normal people': 3 witnesses describe horror of US drone strike in Kabul

From Duarte Mendonça

A damaged car is seen after a US drone strike reportedly targeted a suspected ISIS-K suicide bomber who posed an "imminent" threat in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday, August 29.
A damaged car is seen after a US drone strike reportedly targeted a suspected ISIS-K suicide bomber who posed an "imminent" threat in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday, August 29. Stringer/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The US carried out a defensive airstrike in Kabul Sunday, targeting a suspected ISIS-K suicide bomber who posed an "imminent" threat to the airport, US Central Command said.

Among those killed were nine members of one family -- including six children -- a relative of the dead told a local journalist working with CNN.

One witness said it was 5 p.m. when he heard the noise of a rocket coming.

"I was scared and ducked by the side of the road." The man "waited to see where it will hit and then there was a loud bang."

After the rocket hit, "all the neighbors tried to help and brought water to put out the fire" he said.

He said they included "the father of the family and another young boy and there were four underage children. They were dead. They were in pieces. There were two wounded.
Those who had died "were in a bad state. You could not look at them. It was really horrible," he added.

One neighbor also said he lost his friend in the airstrike.

"The father and children were sitting in the car to go out somewhere," he said adding that "at this point the rocket hit.
"Now there is nothing left in their house. There were 10 or 20 of them who have all been killed. Not much left of their house and nothing can be recognised, they are in pieces."

And another witness said the noise of the rocket was "horrific."

"The family had just driven the car inside the house. All the men folks were in the car," the witness said adding that he and other witnesses "removed six dead bodies."
"These were normal people, they had civilian jobs," he said "The people were not affiliated to anyone," he added.

8:27 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Third group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Mexico

From CNN’s Karol Suarez in Mexico City

A group of 86 Afghan media workers and their families arrived in Mexico on Sunday, the Mexican Foreign Ministry announced. This is the third group of evacuees from Afghanistan to have arrived in Mexico since the Taliban takeover. 

The evacuation of the workers was coordinated by Mexican embassies in Iran, Qatar and the United Kingdom and the Mexican federal government, said the Foreign Ministry said.

The travel and living costs of the group will be covered by private sponsors and civil society organizations, the ministry added.

“The reception of people from Afghanistan is a political decision of the Mexican State and it had been carried out in full adherence to the historical tradition of humanitarian assistance in our country,” the Foreign Ministry said in the statement.

On August 24, Mexico received a group of five Afghan women from a renowned women’s robotics teams. The following day, 124 Afghan journalists who requested humanitarian protection arrived in the country.

4:20 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Car apparently used as improvised launcher in rocket attack directed at Kabul airport

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

Journalists take photos of a destroyed vehicle where rockets were fired from, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, August 30.
Journalists take photos of a destroyed vehicle where rockets were fired from, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, August 30. Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi/AP

A civilian vehicle was apparently used as an improvised platform in the rocket attack aimed at the Kabul airport on Monday.

Video obtained by CNN showed the vehicle in flames on a street in Kabul's Khair Khana neighborhood after the rockets were fired. 

The incinerated remnants of the car are covered with debris, the glass missing from all windows and rubber melted from the tires. The car appears to have been modified with six launch tubes, which are visible inside the car's charred skeleton.

Rocket launcher tubes are seen inside the destroyed vehicle.
Rocket launcher tubes are seen inside the destroyed vehicle. Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi/AP

Zia ud Din, a potato-chip seller whose house was next to where the car was parked, heard the bang of the rockets launching. 

"There were a few big bangs, we all were inside the house -- the whole family -- when we heard the loud bangs, we ran into the garden, everything caught fire," he said. "Fortunately, no one is killed or injured."

Eyewitnesses said one of the rockets hit a nearby building. A rocket impact was visible on a nearby high-rise tower. Taliban fighters and eyewitnesses said there were no casualties in the building.

Taliban fighters had initially cordoned off the area, telling bystanders the situation remained dangerous, though they later allowed journalists on the street.

A US official told CNN the rockets were likely launched by ISIS-K, but cautioned it was too early to know for sure.

1:54 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

US operations at Kabul airport "uninterrupted" by rocket attack, White House press secretary says

From CNN’s Jasmine Wright

President Joe Biden was briefed on the rocket attack at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The US President was informed “operations continue uninterrupted" at the airport, she said, as the August 31 deadline to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan approaches.

3:09 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

As many as 5 rockets fired on Kabul airport, US official tells CNN

From CNN's Alex Marquardt

Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, August 30.
Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, August 30. (CNN)

As many as five rockets were fired at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Monday, a US official told CNN.

The C-RAM defense system -- designed to protect ground forces against rockets, artillery and mortars -- installed at the airport engaged with the rockets, the official said.

There are no reports of any casualties, the official said.

The official said that the rockets aimed at the airport were likely launched by ISIS-K, but cautions it is too early to know for sure.

12:22 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Unidentified blast in Kabul, say residents and local media

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

Residents of Kabul and local media said a blast was heard in the early morning hours, local time, in the Afghan capital.

There was no clear indication of what kind of explosion it was or any official confirmation of the source of the blast.

12:23 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Vehicle targeted by US strike Sunday contained a suicide bomber, US official says

From CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh

The vehicle that was targeted by the US in Sunday’s strike on Kabul was next to a building and contained one suicide bomber, a US official told CNN.

It remains unclear if the vehicle was intended to be a car bomb, or if the suicide bomber was using it for transport.

"It was loaded up and ready to go,” the official told CNN.

Earlier, US CENTCOM said the airstrike on a vehicle in Kabul eliminated “an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport.”