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Afghan Photographer In Kabul Says He's Worried As Taliban Searches For Journalists

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is no longer. Tens of thousands of Afghans who worked with the U.S. have been evacuated from the country. Thousands more are still inside.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Like Lemar - he's a photojournalist who worked for Voice of America. We're only using one of his names for his safety. And like many others, he tried for 13 hours to get to the Kabul airport with his family.

LEMAR: I was trying to leave, yeah. But we didn't expect that crowd. We wished that we were - we will be able with our families to get inside the airport. But the crowd was very crazy. And without any shoot - without any gunfires, the crowd was also killing the people, just pushing people and pushing kids. So we didn't try after that.

CORNISH: Lemar is originally from Lashkar Gah in the southern Helmand province. He fled his hometown two days before it was taken by the Taliban earlier this month. He and his wife and their 7-month-old baby are now staying in Kabul.

LEMAR: They are good, but they are also suffering from this situation because, you know, this place is very strange to them. They can be - feel themselves in a prison. So they are also very sad about the situation. The - my family says that if there is no chance to go outside of the country, so let us go to our home in Lashkar Gah.

FADEL: Lemar says going back to Lashkar Gah is not an option.

LEMAR: Yeah, I don't feel safe there. That's very risky for me and also my family. I have - we have many incidents in Lashkar Gah. The Taliban killed two government officials. So no one cared about them. So that would be the same story for me.

FADEL: And staying in Kabul, he says, will be difficult. It's expensive. His first living situation didn't go well.

LEMAR: I couldn't afford that huge amount of money to the houseowner. So I managed to find some place - just one home. And I am paying them the least amount of money. I didn't say the homeowner that when will I leave. So our future is uncertain.

CORNISH: Lemar feels Kabul is safer for him and his family, but he doesn't know for how much longer.

LEMAR: Because Taliban already search - started searching the houses. And they are looking for activists and journalists and also government officials.

FADEL: The last U.S. plane has left Afghan airspace. General Frank McKenzie announced, quote, "the completion of our mission to Afghanistan." That makes Lemar's future much more uncertain.

LEMAR: We are waiting for them that what will happen next. It's in their hand.

(SOUNDBITE OF AIR'S "ALONE IN KYOTO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.