Planes with US ‘hostages’ aboard blocked by Taliban from leaving Afghan airport

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The senior US lawmaker accused the Taliban of taking several Americans hostage by blocking their evacuation flights. The planes were grounded by the Taliban in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Sunday, local authorities have confirmed. The aircraft contained hundreds of people attempting to flee the country.

Michael McCaul, the most senior Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said a total of six planes were grounded.

The aircraft had a number of US citizens and Afghan interpreters on board and were being held up by the Taliban.

Mr McCaul has claimed the Taliban were “holding them hostage” by keeping the planes grounded.

Speaking to Fox News Mr McCaul added: “The Taliban will not let them leave the airport.

“They’re going to demand more and more, whether it be cash or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan.”

An official at the airport in northern Afghanistan said that the majority of the planes’ passengers were Afghans.

The official claimed they were blocked from leaving the country because many of them did not have passports or visas.

The passengers were then forced to leave the airport.

It has been reported that they are staying in hotels while authorities investigate if they could leave the country.

The news comes as the Taliban now claim to be in complete control of Afghanistan.

The militant group said they have achieved their aim “after taking Panjshir province”.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the area had been “completely conquered”.

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He added that a “number of people” were killed, while the “rest fled”.

However, the opposition group, National Resistance Front (NRF), said the “Taliban’s claim of occupying Panjshir is false”.

The NRF added: “The NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight.

“We assure the people of Afghanistan that the struggle against the Taliban and their partners will continue until justice and freedom prevails.”

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