A video of hundreds of Afghans jostling to climb into an aeroplane to fly out of the country amid the Taliban's return may become the latest defining image of desperation in a war-torn country.
A parked aircraft at Kabul airport is surrounded by a sea of people who are pushing and fighting to get inside the cabin from the only ladder connected to the front door. Many are also seen walking around the tarmac and making no effort to find a plane to climb in, a sign they may have given up any hope of leaving.
The visuals from Kabul airport resembles a chaotic bus stand more than an airport. Barbed wires surround the tarmac at some areas, behind which a line of Afghans stare at the few remaining US troops who are guarding the airport.
The US troops at the airport fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd this morning. "I feel very scared here. They are firing lots of shots into the air," a witness told news agency AFP.
The Taliban were in control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and conceded the terrorists had won the 20-year war. The astonishingly quick collapse of the government, with terrorists taking over the presidential palace on Sunday night, triggered fear and panic in the capital Kabul.
Mr Ghani fled on Sunday as the terrorists encircled Kabul, with the Taliban sealing a nationwide military victory that saw all cities fall to them in just 10 days.
"The Taliban have won with the judgement of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honour, property and self-preservation of their countrymen," Mr Ghani said in a statement on Facebook, his first since fleeing.
In a video posted to social media, Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar also announced victory. "Now it's time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life," he said.
Afghan government forces collapsed without the support of the US military, which invaded in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and toppled the Taliban for its support of Al Qaeda.
With inputs from AFP