Germany sends 2 light helicopters to assist with Kabul evacuation, but military says people must get to airport themselves
German nationals and locals fleeing the Taliban have to make their own way to Kabul airport, as the two light helicopters Berlin is sending will only be used in individual cases and not as a “taxi,” the Bundeswehr chief said.
The comments came as a spokesperson for the German government confirmed that one of its citizens had been shot and injured while trying to get to Kabul airport and leave Afghanistan.
Two H145M helicopters have already been loaded on a transport aircraft and are expected to join the evacuation operation in the Afghan capital from Saturday, General Eberhard Zorn, inspector general of the Bundeswehr, told reporters in Berlin on Friday.
The choppers, which are normally used by the country’s elite special forces, Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK), are being deployed in Afghanistan in coordination with the US. The Americans only have heavy helicopters in Kabul, but smaller aircraft are needed “in the urban environment,” Zorn said.
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However, the light helicopters won’t be used as a “taxi service” to Kabul airport, the army chief added. People looking to flee the country after its fall to the Taliban still have to get themselves to the airfield, according to the commander.
The two aircraft will also only operate in the Kabul area and will not be deployed further away in cities such as Mazar-i-Sharif, north of the capital, he added.
The H145 is a twin-engine light utility helicopter made by European aerospace giant Airbus. Depending on the configuration, it can carry up to nine passengers. But the typical capacity of its military version is reportedly lower than that.
The choppers can be used to rescue individual people in dangerous situations, or pick them up in remote locations, a German Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Together with the US and NATO allies, Germany is working to evacuate foreign citizens, including Afghans who worked with the Western coalition forces during their two-decade presence in the country, and refugees. Bundeswehr planes have already taken 1,645 people – mainly Germans and Afghans – out of the country, as of Friday afternoon.
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Earlier in the day, a German national was shot on the way to Kabul airport, deputy government spokesperson Ulrike Demmer said. The man’s life is not in danger, however, and he was expected to fly out of Afghanistan soon, she added.
As for the situation at the airport, which has been besieged by thousands of desperate people for days now, Demmer said it remains “extremely chaotic,” volatile, and unpredictable.
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Source:RT World News