Berlin / Kabul (dpa) – The Bundeswehr faces a new dangerous mission in Afghanistan. Two helicopters should be ready in the capital Kabul from next Saturday.
These are able to bring endangered people to safety who cannot get to the airport alone. According to the Ministry of Defense, the machines could be used to rescue individual German citizens or local workers from dangerous situations.
The helicopters are H-145M machines with a total of 13 soldiers. They are assigned to special forces and requested by the US. US forces mainly flew large helicopters and needed a smaller machine in urban areas, Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said in Berlin on Friday. “We have them.”
Location is extremely dangerous
When deployed, the Bundeswehr machines must always be accompanied by American helicopters. In the background there is also an “airborne intervention reserve” from the American side. “This is a real air operation. It’s not a “taxi service,” Zorn said. First, the «Spiegel» reported on the planned mission. The Special Forces Command (KSK) helicopters are actually designed to rescue hostages and are highly manoeuvrable. You could end up in densely populated cities. So far, the Bundeswehr has only been deployed at Kabul airport, which is secured by US troops.
The situation around the airport has been chaotic since the militant Islamist Taliban came to power. Thousands of Afghans and foreigners hope for a chance to make it to safety on Western flights. The situation is extremely dangerous. Local helpers from German organizations also report congested and in some cases impassable streets where the Taliban have set up checkpoints.
A German civilian suffered a gunshot wound on his way to the airport. Deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in Berlin on Friday: “He is receiving medical care, but there is no danger to his life.” Another German was slightly injured near the airport, the German news agency learned in the evening from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was initially unclear whether it was a gunshot wound.
The time pressure is growing
One of the two injured has already been flown to Tashkent in Uzbekistan. The other is transportable, but was still in Kabul on Friday night. The airport entrance was temporarily closed on Friday. As a result, the Bundeswehr could only take 78 people on a flight in the afternoon, although the A400M can hold more than twice as many passengers.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the Bundeswehr had rescued more than 1,700 people by the beginning of Friday evening. In the late evening, another Bundeswehr machine brought 172 more vulnerable people to Tashkent. The time pressure is mounting because the US actually wants to complete the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan by August 31. However, the evacuations of other armed forces, such as the German armed forces, are dependent on the protection of the currently 5,200 American soldiers.