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  • War in Afghanistan (2001-present)

image sourceGetty Imagesimage captionFor days, thousands of fearful Afghans have waited outside the capital's airport in the hope of boarding a flight out

The rapid Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has left some fearing for their lives and seeking to escape the country, often by any means necessary.

The militant Islamist group is said to be carrying out door-to-door searches while violent scenes have also been reported at some Taliban-controlled checkpoints.

The militants seized control of major cities last week as part of a sweeping offensive that shocked international observers. It culminated in the fall of the capital, Kabul, which triggered the collapse of the Afghan government.

Now, those who have worked for the government or other foreign powers, as well as journalists and activists, say they are fearful of reprisals and need to be evacuated. They have spoken to the BBC, but their names have been changed to protect their safety.

Usman, who worked as an interpreter for the British armed forces, was sheltering with his wife and some neighbours when the Taliban came. He was woken in the early hours of the morning and told the group were nearby.

"They were searching door-to-door," he said. "Everyone panicked – then the news spread to every other house."

"A neighbour said they were searching for weapons, documents and government vehicles. They were trying to find out who had worked for Nato or the government."

"I put on my clothes and just jumped over a wall and ran away," Usman said. "I know that I am going to be killed. There is no other way."

Usman was told he was eligible for relocating to the UK in December, but after all his paperwork was processed he received a letter of rejection on Friday. "We are not feeling safe," he said. "I'm really desperate."

image sourceEPAimage captionThe Taliban have been patrolling in Afghanistan's major cities

Hashem, a translator, was sheltering in an apartment in one of the country's biggest cities when he spoke to the BBC.

"I've been working with intermediary forces and thought the US and German governments would help," he said.

"I have had to destroy all my documents."

"I had the courage to go to Kabul airport, and someone from the Taliban told me there had been fake news spreading that the Americans would take people out."

"He told me to tell others not to go to the airport. We're discussing plans about what we can do to flee to another country."

image sourceReutersimage captionEvacuations have been taking place in recent days, but thousands of people remain desperate to leave

It is not just those who worked for international governments who are fearful. Two women who worked for a media outlet are in hiding and say the Taliban are searching for them.

Without a visa, however, they say travelling to an airport would be futile.

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"They have twice called at my house… looking for me and my husband," one of the women, Aida, said. "They are asking other members of my family where we are and they have also been sending me threatening texts."

"They say that when they find me they will kill me."

"I feel really desperate and stressed about what will happen to me and my family," she said.

"Right now we are like turkeys in our homes," her colleague, Saabira, said. "We can't go out because the Taliban are all around us." She said her food supplies were running worryingly low.

"The Taliban are trying to find government [workers], journalists, and women's rights activists. We are really worried – what if they come to our home? What if they knock on our door?"

"The airport is not possible for us because we haven't [got a] visa" she said. "We haven't got money or any support, so it's impossible."

media caption"Everybody got very emotional": Hassina Syed describes getting out of Afghanistan on a British military plane

Meanwhile, dozens of English language teachers who worked for the British council training Afghan school teachers are desperate to leave but have been denied visas to come to the UK.

"We are horrified and really scared," one said. "For the past week, I couldn't speak English in front of anyone because I was scared they would realise I worked with foreigners and inform on me."

"I never considered going to Kabul airport, I have children and I couldn't risk their lives," he said. "Our concern is that [the Taliban] are searching for specific people who provided services for foreign governments, it makes us scared."

"But when I see Kabul airport, I don't see any way to cross the crowd and get in."

"I want the UK government to consider the service that we provided for them," he said. "If we remain in Afghanistan our lives are in great danger."

Reporting by Gareth Evans, Georgina Rannard and Mike Thomson