Some 200 passengers, including US citizens, took off from Kabul airport on Thursday, on the first flight carrying foreigners out of the Afghan capital since a US-led evacuation ended on August 30.
The flight to Doha comes as the Taliban continue their transition from insurgents to governing power, less than a month after they marched into Kabul and ousted former president Ashraf Ghani.
An Afghan-American dual citizen, waiting to board the flight with his family, said the US State Department had called him in the morning and told him to go to the airport.
“I have not been feeling well these past weeks. Someone told me that people were looking for me,” he told AFP.
“We got in contact with the State Department, they gave me a call this morning and said to go to the airport,” the father, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
In the days that followed the Taliban’s blitz, the airport had become a tragic symbol of desperation among Afghans terrified of the militants’ return to power — with thousands of people crowding around its gates daily, and some even clinging to jets as they took off.
More than 100 people were killed, including 13 US troops, in a suicide attack on August 26 near the airport that was claimed by the Islamic State group’s local chapter.