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Kabul Journalist Describes Aftermath Of Deadly Explosions


We begin this hour in Kabul, a city still reeling from yesterday's terror attack at the airport. Today, that airport was operating - flights taking off, evacuations continuing - but the White House says President Biden has been told another terror attack in Kabul is likely and that the next few days of this mission will be the most dangerous period to date. For an update from the ground, we return to Ali Latifi, Kabul correspondent for Al Jazeera English.

Hi again.

ALI LATIFI: Hi, how are you?

KELLY: OK, thank you. Let's start with anything you can confirm about the situation at the airport today. Have more warnings been issued there, telling people to stay away, don't cluster around airport entrances?

LATIFI: Yeah, the Taliban have extended their security perimeter by another 500 meters. There are some people still able to get to the airport, but they're making it much more difficult because of the security threat. They're being very careful with who gets around that perimeter now and who doesn't.

KELLY: And when you speak to people, what are they saying? Are they aware of the warnings that another attack is likely? Are they aware of the risk?

LATIFI: They are aware of the - I mean, I know someone who took his family today. I don't know if he has any chance of getting on a plane, but he still insisted on going. You know, on the one hand, you know, extra security is good because hopefully just by its existence, it will keep people out. But on the other, it just leaves people open to more abuse.

KELLY: It sounds like the people you're talking to must feel increasingly desperate. On the one hand, they understand the risk and the warnings about security at the airport.


KELLY: On the other hand, time is running out. If you are trying to get out of Afghanistan, this August 31 deadline is just a few days away now.

LATIFI: And that's exactly why these people were willing to take the risks. Because they were like, our window is shrinking. They thought that since it's the end and they're scrambling, they might somehow be able to, you know, sort of pass through the system.

KELLY: So what does it feel like tonight in Kabul, one day after this awful attack and with people, I imagine, very nervous because of warnings there may be more to come?

LATIFI: Yeah. You know, the one sort of possibly positive outcome of the Taliban taking over was that, well, the war is ended. We don't have to worry about bombings and that kind of violence anymore, at least. At least we don't have to worry about that. And now that illusion has been shattered as well. You know, it's this feeling that one cycle of violence gives way to another cycle of violence.

KELLY: That is Ali Latifi, Kabul correspondent for Al Jazeera English, speaking to us from Kabul again today.

Thank you so much for making time.

LATIFI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.
Lauren Hodges is an associate producer for All Things Considered. She joined the show in 2018 after seven years in the NPR newsroom as a producer and editor. She doesn't mind that you used her pens, she just likes them a certain way and asks that you put them back the way you found them, thanks. Despite years working on interviews with notable politicians, public figures, and celebrities for NPR, Hodges completely lost her cool when she heard RuPaul's voice and was told to sit quietly in a corner during the rest of the interview. She promises to do better next time.