Harrowing video shows gunfire, families with crying children at Kabul airport

A video of the tense, chaotic scene outside Kabul's airport shows fighters firing weapons Thursday into the air above a packed crowd and in some instances lowering their rifles to shoulder level as terrified people disperse.

The harrowing video, reviewed by USA TODAY, raises concerns about violent force being deployed against thousands of civilians who have flocked to the airport in Afghanistan's capital in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban takeover and reach safety.

It is not clear whether anyone was injured or killed in the moments the video was shot. At different points, adults cradle small, crying children and crouch over them in protective stances as rounds of gunfire erupt around them, crackling through the air.

One or two gunmen who lowered their weapons appear to have fired them, but that is difficult to determine with certainty in the shaky video. It's also unclear whether they were pointing directly at anyone or aiming just above their heads or at empty spaces within the fleeing crowd. It’s also unclear who is firing the weapons -- whether they are Taliban, Afghan national forces or others. The video shows people in differing uniforms and with various kinds of weapons.

The Kabul airport has been in disarray since the country fell to the Taliban. 

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Concrete barriers ring the airport, as thousands of Americans, Afghan allies and other foreign nationals try to get through the crushing crowds and Taliban checkpoints for hours and hours at a time. People plead with Afghan security forces to examine their travel documents and allow them through; often, those pleas fail.

Asked for a comment, a State Department spokesperson said: "We take all such reports extraordinarily seriously."

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Thursday the U.S. is "always going to be keeping an eye on the security environment, the threat situation, weighing all of these things," but emphasized the goal is to "relocate as many people to safety as we possibly can."  

President Joe Biden vowed on Friday to evacuate every American who wants to leave.

More:Updates from Afghanistan: Biden tells Americans 'we will get you home' as evacuation flights resume

"Let me be clear, any American who wants to come, we will get you home," he said during remarks at the White House.

Roughly 13,000 people have been evacuated from the country since Saturday, Biden added.

Biden acknowledged evacuation flights from Kabul were briefly paused for a "few hours" Friday morning due to processing delays but said the commander of U.S. forces had given the order for outbound flights to resume.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby acknowledged in remarks to reporters Friday that there have been "sporadic reports" of civilians being harassed at Taliban checkpoints. 

U.S. troops did move outside the airport and walked a short distance in the last day to help escort 169 civilians inside the gate.

"It's a very fluid situation," Kirby said Thursday.

More:Chaos at Kabul airport raises questions about U.S. evacuation effort

The Associated Press contributed reporting.