Afghanistan youth national soccer player killed after falling from plane in Kabul airport chaos

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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 Monday, the country confirmed in a statement on Thursday, via CNN.

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

US soldiers stand guard as Afghan people wait to board a US military aircraft  to leave Afghanistan, at the military airport in Kabul on August 19, 2021 after Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by Shakib RAHMANI / AFP) (Photo by SHAKIB RAHMANI/AFP via Getty Images)
US soldiers stand guard as Afghan people wait to board a US military aircraft to leave Afghanistan, at the military airport in Kabul on August 19, 2021 after Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by Shakib RAHMANI / AFP) (Photo by SHAKIB RAHMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

“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 remains 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 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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