Hours after the retreat of US troops, photographs from the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan show how locals looted it over the weekend, taking away basketballs, stereo speakers, laptops, bicycle helmets and other pieces of scrap.
US troops on Friday shut off the electricity at Bagram and left in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, according to Afghan security officials. “We [heard] some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by 7:00 in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” General Mir Asadullah Kohistani, Bagram’s new commander, told The Associated Press.
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“They (Americans) are completely out now and everything is under our control, including watchtowers, air traffic and the hospital,” a senior Afghan government official told the Reuters news agency. The Taliban captured districts in Badakhshan and Kandahar provinces over the weekend, sending Afghan government forces fleeing across the border with Tajikistan. Taliban fighters last week launched an attack on the central Afghan city of Ghazni, on the highway linking the capital Kabul with the southern province of Kandahar.
Afghan soldiers who wandered throughout the base that had once seen as many as 100,000 US troops were deeply critical of how the US left Bagram. “In one night, they lost all the goodwill of 20 years by leaving the way they did, in the night, without telling the Afghan soldiers who were outside patrolling the area,” said Afghan soldier Naematullah. The soldier requested that only one of his names was used.