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By Sarah Taylor | The Blaze
Dozens of San Diego County-area school students and their parents are stranded in Afghanistan, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times, after taking a trip abroad for summer vacation.
What are the details?
The outlet reported that at least 24 students and 16 parents from Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon, California, visited Afghanistan earlier this summer and are now among the thousands of people who are stranded in the war-torn country as the Taliban continues to take over.
On Tuesday, Cajon Valley Superintendent David Miyashiro announced that the students and adults traveled to the country on special visa for U.S. military services, and that the Department of Defense “considers them allies.” He also noted that he would be meeting with Republican California Rep. Darrell Issa to figure out how to locate and rescue the stranded families.
It was not immediately clear at the time of this reporting when the families arrived in Afghanistan.
A spokesperson for Issa told the outlet that the congressman and his team are “working diligently to determine the facts on the ground, any bureaucratic barriers that can be removed, and the best ways to help those stranded leave Afghanistan and return home safely.”
“We won’t stop until we have answers and action,” the spokesperson vowed.
Cajon Valley School Board President Tamara Otero said that the “biggest concern” is that the Taliban closed the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
“We are so worried about our students that are stuck there,” Otero said. “We’ll do the best that we can to get them out.”
The New York Post reported that the trip — which was not sanctioned by the district — was for students and their parents to visit with extended relatives.
The Taliban this week demanded the evacuation operations, including U.S. troops, be completed by Aug. 31 or there would be “consequences.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday declared that no Afghan nationals would be permitted to flee the country, and that U.S. troops would not have any option to extend the evacuation order past the Aug. 31 date.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen added that the U.S. would face “consequences” for failing to adhere to the terrorist group’s demand.
“It’s a red line,” Shaheen warned. “President [Joe] Biden announced that on Aug. 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation.”
US Embassy issues urgent warning to Americans at Kabul airport to leave over ‘security threats’
By Carlos Garcia | The Blaze
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued an urgent warning to Americans to leave the airport over unspecified “security threats” on Wednesday.
The travel warning was the latest in the ongoing crisis involving Americans stranded in Afghanistan after the fall of the government to Taliban militants.
The statement warned Americans to stay away from the Kabul airport while those who were at several airport gates were told to leave immediately.
#Afghanistan: Due to threats outside the Kabul airport, US citizens should avoid traveling to the airport and avoid airport gates unless you receive instructions to do so. Those at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately. http://ow.ly/chJu50FYgpW
The statement did not specify whether the threat was from the Taliban militia, who control the city outside of the airport, or from ISIS terrorists. The Associated Press reported that the threat involved potential vehicle bombs targeting Americans and others.
The Biden administration has been excoriated by critics accusing them of poorly planning the withdrawal. President Joe Biden blamed the Afghanistan army and claimed that none of his advisors foresaw the government collapsing so quickly before the Taliban.
The Biden administration had also been reticent to produce solid figures about how many Americans were trapped in Afghanistan. On Wednesday Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that they believed 1,500 Americans were still waiting to be evacuated. Of those, 500 had been instructed on how to leave the country.
“From the list of approximately 1,000, we believe that the number of Americans actively seeking assistance to leave Afghanistan is lower, and likely significantly lower,” Blinken said.
The Taliban has warned the U.S. against leaving any military presence in the country past the August 31 deadline. Biden has vowed to evacuate all Americans from the country before the deadline, but he was unable to say what his plan would be if he were unable to do so.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared uneasy about the possibility of Americans left behind after the deadline.
“Again, we expect there could be some, but I don’t — I’m not going to get into it further,” Psaki said.
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Mutilated body of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui discovered in Afghanistan after being left behind; Afghan general says Taliban likely culprit
By Sarah Taylor
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui is dead after having inadvertently been left behind in Afghanistan in July during an Afghan military retreat.
Reuters reports that Major-General Haibatullah Alizai and other soldiers say that Siddiqui was likely discovered and ultimately murdered by the Taliban.
Just three days ahead of Siddiqui’s violent death, Reuters published an account of the late photographer’s experience in Kandahar accompanying Afghan commandos in a rescue mission.
What are the details?
According to reports, Siddiqui, a 38-year-old Reuters photographer, was said to have been killed on July 16 along with two Afghan commandos after the military retreated in a fight to to take Spin Boldak, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Alizai, commander of the country’s Special Operations Corps, and four other soldiers said that Siddiqui and the two commandos were reportedly mistakenly left behind “after the soldiers believed the three already retreated.”
At least one mutilated body was reportedly discovered in Taliban custody, and reports soon emerged suggesting that neither Siddiqui nor the two commandos made it out of the town to safety after all.
Images of the late photojournalist’s body reportedly began circulating on social media, and was ultimately identified and recovered after Reuters and Forensic Equity recognized the body as belonging to Siddiqui.
Forensic Equity ballistics expert Philip Boyce said that it was “evident” that Siddiqui was “shot multiple further times after he was killed.”
Reuters added that other reports also claimed that Siddiqui’s body, in addition to being shot and mutilated, was also run over by a vehicle.
A spokesman for the Taliban denies it had any role in Siddiqui’s death.
“We can’t say whose bullet hit Danish Siddiqui, and we had no prior information about him being in the area,” the spokesman said.
Siddiqui leaves behind a wife and two young children.
According to The Hill, Siddiqui told his boss that he felt compelled to cover Afghanistan in the weeks leading up to the country’s collapse.
“If we don’t go, who will?” he reportedly told his superiors ahead of departing to cover the terrorist-ravaged country.
Reuters stated that it completed a risk assessment before Siddiqui embedded with the country’s Special Forces.
“Don’t worry,” he reportedly told a concerned friend. “I know when to pull the plug.”
Author: Frances Rice