Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday as Taliban militants entered the capital city of Kabul.
Ghani flew to neighboring Tajikistan, a senior Afghan Interior Ministry official told Reuters. However, the Afghan president’s office said it “cannot say anything about Ashraf Ghani’s movement for security reasons.” “That’s it. It’s over,” a U.S. official told Fox News regarding the withdrawal. “The former president of Afghanistan left Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation. God should hold him accountable,” Abdullah Abdullah, head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, said in a video posted online.
The council was tasked by Ghani with handling government negotiations with the Taliban. Acting Interior Minister Abdul Satar Mirzakwal said security forces would be deployed in Kabul to ensure order, in comments translated by the Washington Post. “There is an agreement that there will be a transitional administration for orderly transfer of power,” Mirzakwal said.
There were no reports of fighting in the capital, an Interior Ministry official told Reuters. However, armed Taliban militants were seen in the streets of Kabul and in Afghan security vehicles, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel wrote on Twitter. “We want to enter Kabul with peace, and talks” with the Afghan government “are underway” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
Taliban fighters entered the presidential palace and took control of it, two senior Taliban commanders in Kabul said. The Al-Jazeera news network has broadcast footage of a large group of Taliban fighters inside the presidential palace in the Afghan capital. The Taliban insurgents are expected to announce their takeover from the palace, renaming the country as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The militants have taken over most of Afghanistan in a matter of days as the US prepares to withdraw after nearly 20 years of war.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: INDEPENDENT
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