A youngster who died and fell from a US military aircraft during a desperate bid to flee the clutches of the Taliban in Kabul has been named as footballer Zaki Anwari.
Youth international Anwari had attempted to grab on to an American plane after joining thousands of people at Hamid Karzai International Airport, where the US has been flying people away since Taliban insurgents regained power of the country earlier this week.
The talented prospect is said to have been crushed while the wheels of the USAF Boeing C-17 were retracting, with his remains later found in the wheel well of a plane.
The airport has been the setting for harrowing scenes, with some residents hellbent on escaping from the notorious new regime trying to hold on to moving aircraft in a mark of their desperation.
Announcing the news, Afghanistan’s General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports called the “tragic accident” a source of “great regret”.
“The late Anwari, among hundreds of young people who wanted to leave the country, fell and died in an accident from a US military plane,” it said in a Facebook post.
A mourner responded: “Very sad and scary. A frightening spectre of losing freedom made this young footballer take a step towards freedom and lose his life instead. Normal Afghanis are now so scared.”
The futures of sports organizations operating in Afghanistan are uncertain in the aftermath of a change of power that has shocked the world.
The Afghanistan Football Federation is yet to make an official public response to the developments, while world governing body FIFA has said it is in contact with the federation and other groups and will continue to monitor the situation and provide support.
The founder of the country’s international women’s football team has advised players – many of whom have previously opposed the Taliban – to close down their social media accounts, adding that many have been sending her terrified messages and videos showing members of the movement outside their homes.