Afghan youth soccer player killed in airport chaos

Zaki Anwari, a member of Afghanistan’s youth national soccer team was one of several victims who died after falling from a United States military plane on Monday, the country confirmed in a statement on Thursday, via CNN.

The 17-year-old was one of multiple killed in the chaos that broke out at the Kabul airport on Monday, shortly after the Taliban took over control of the country.

“With great regret and sadness, we obtained information that Zaki Anwari, one of the youth footballers of the national team, has lost his life in a horrible accident,” the statement said, as translated by CNN.

“[He was] endeavoring to leave the country like hundreds of other youth from his country. He has fallen down from the U.S. military plane and lost his life.”

Horrific video from the Kabul airport on Monday showed thousands of Afghans attempting to flee the country after the Taliban took over the capital city following the withdrawal of most American troops. Many, per The New York Times, rushed boarding gates and runways and even climbed into wings of departing planes.

One video showed a U.S. C-17 cargo plane, the one that Anwari fell from, moving down the runway as hundreds of people ran with it. Pentagon officials confirmed that two people had died falling from the plane, and that body parts were found in the landing gear of the plane when it landed, according to The New York Times.

The former captain of the Afghan women’s soccer team, Khalida Popal, urged players on Thursday to delete social media and burn their jerseys and other team gear for their safety — as she fears that the Taliban may retaliate.

“Today I’m calling them and telling them, take down their names, remove their identities, take down their photos for their safety. Even I’m telling them to burn down or get rid of your national team uniform,” she said, via Reuters.

“And that is painful for me, for someone as an activist who stood up and did everything possible to achieve and earn that identity as a women’s national team player. To earn that badge on the chest, to have the right to play and represent our country, how much we were proud.”

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