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A 19-year-old aspiring soccer player named Zaki Anwari was among the Afghan citizens killed during chaotic attempts to flee the country from Kabul airport on Monday, according to numerous media reports Thursday.
The circumstances of Anwari’s death are somewhat unclear, with some outlets reporting that he was killed when he fell from a US military plane shortly after takeoff.
Others, however, report that Anwari is the Afghan citizen who was found dead in the landing gear of a US aircraft leaving Kabul.
Anwari, who had played for Afghanistan’s youth soccer team, was found dead inside the wheel well of a US C-17 jet carrying hundreds of people out of Kabul on Monday, The Times of London reported.
Local news agency Ariana News, however, reports that Anwari was clinging to the outside of the jet and fell to his death.
The General Directorate of Physical Education & Sports of Afghanistan confirmed Zaki Anwari, a player from the national youth football team, was among hundreds of young people who tried to leave the country by clinging to a US military plane. Anwari fell and died.#ArianaNews pic.twitter.com/onhcSMFiEu
— Ariana News (@ArianaNews_) August 19, 2021
It was reported Monday that US officials found the body of a dead Afghan citizen after the crew was unable to close the landing gear after takeoff.
The discovery forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Qatar.
Anwari was one of hundreds at Kabul airport attempting to flee the country after the Taliban took major cities and gained control following the withdrawal of US troops in recent weeks.
Rumors circulated of Anwari’s death on Wednesday via a Facebook page dedicated to the Afghan team before the news was confirmed by domestic news agency Ariana News via the general directorate of physical education and sports of Afghanistan, on Thursday as reported by the Daily Mail.
The newspaper also reports that Anwari had been called up to the national youth soccer team as a 16-year-old when he was attending Esteqlal High School in Kabul.
The United States Air Force (USAF) confirmed on Tuesday that it was opening an investigation into the circumstances which led to the death of a person in the C-17’s landing gear. Anwari’s identity was not known at the time.
“The aircraft was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians who had breached the airport perimeter.
“Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible. Human remains were discovered in the wheel well of the C-17 after it landed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
“The aircraft is currently impounded to provide time to collect the remains and inspect the aircraft before it is returned to flying status,” USAF said.