Shots Fired as Italian Military Plane Departs Kabul Airport

Shots have been fired as an Italian military plane took off from Kabul airport in Afghanistan, according to reports.

The C-130 transport carrying Afghan former NATO workers was allegedly fired upon as it left the airport on Thursday, military sources told the Italian news agency ANSA and Reuters.

The plane was not damaged during the incident.

An Italian journalist who was on the flight told Sky 24 TG that the plane was carrying around 100 Afghan civilians when it came under fire moments after it had taken off from the airport.

However, a government source citing intelligence reports later told Reuters that Afghan forces shot into the air to disperse crowds near Kabul airport, not at the plane.

The incident occurred as tens of thousands of people have been attempting to be evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban took the capital just days after U.S. forces and its allies withdrew following a war lasting 20 years.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan advised all American citizens to avoid traveling to Kabul airport and to avoid the airport gates because of unspecified security threats from Islamic State militants.

Similar advice was also given by the British government after receiving intelligence about a possible suicide bomb attack by Isis militants.

"The threat is credible, it is imminent, it is lethal. We wouldn't be saying this if we weren't genuinely concerned about offering Islamic State a target that is just unimaginable," Britain's armed forces minister told the BBC.

A Western diplomat in Kabul told Reuters that the areas around the airport gates were still "incredibly crowded" despite the warnings to stay away.

President Joe Biden has ordered all troops out of Afghanistan by August 31 to comply with a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, rejecting calls from allies such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to extend the deadline in order to ensure all civilians can be safely taken out of the city.

On Tuesday, Biden insisted that the U.S. will meet the end of August deadline.

"The sooner we can finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops," Biden said.

"But the completion by August 31 depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who were transport- — we're transporting out and no disruptions to our operations."

The White House said on Wednesday that 19,000 people were evacuated from Kabul over a period of 24 hours, and that U.S. military planes are taking off at the equivalent of around every 39 minutes.

There are currently around 6000 U.S. troops at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, with additional military personnel from the Nato countries such as Germany and France also present.

kabul airport shooting
Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images