DENVER — As thousands seek to flee the city of Kabul after the shocking takeover in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Dina Horwedel is working to get her colleagues out.
"Time is of the essence," Horwedel explained while typing on her computer to a colleague in Afghanistan. "I'm really concerned at this point. My main focus is trying to help the folks that we have the power to help."
Horwedel and her husband are both reporters who worked with The Institute for War and Peace Reporting in 2004 helping to teach local journalists how to report on the new government. The skill of journalism, she said, could now come with a death sentence under Taliban rule.
"The Taliban is going door to door and saying, 'We know that you worked in journalism and we're coming for you,'" Horwedel said. "One man that I spoke with last night said that he had been threatened with beheading."
The collapse of the democratic government in Afghanistan and the exodus of the nation's president, Ashraf Ghani, have left confusion and chaos in its wake. Videos on Sunday showed thousands stampeding Hamid Karzai International Airport. Other images show helicopters taking employees from the US embassy in Kabul as they try to flee the country.
In a statement to U.S. citizens, embassy officials said “the security situation in Kabul is changing quickly including at the airport. There are reports of the airport taking fire; therefore we are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place.”
So far, Horwedel has only heard that one of her dozens of Afghan colleagues have safely left the country.
"We worked with over 100 people. So I don't know how many are still there," she said. "This is our obligation. This is our moral duty to help people who have helped us."