US govt warns Americans to avoid Kabul airport, Ghani flees Afghanistan as city falls to Taliban

resident Ashraf Ghani, along with his close aides, flew out of Afghanistan on Sunday, paving way for Taliban to regain power 20 years after a US-led military invasion ousted them.

Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani

A senior Afghan Interior Ministry official confirmed the development to Reuters. Asked for comment, the president’s office said it “cannot say anything about Ashraf Ghani’s movement for security reasons”.

Shortly after President Ghani flew out of the country, Taliban commanders claimed that they “took control” of the presidential palace in Kabul, Russia’s RT reported.

The report quoted the group as saying that it expected a total handover of power.

Taliban fighters entered Afghanistan’s presidential palace hours after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. The group’s leadership, surrounded by dozens of armed fighters, addressed the media from the country’s seat of power.#etribune #Afghanistan #Kabul #ViralVideo— The Express Tribune (@etribune) August 15, 2021

Ghani, in his first comments since leaving the country, said that he left the country in order to avoid bloodshed

Afghan president said that he left in order to avoid clashes with the Taliban that would endanger millions of Kabul residents.

He did not disclose details on his current location.

Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, assured all embassies, diplomatic missions and residences of foreign nationals in Kabul that there is no danger to them.

“The forces of the Islamic Emirate are tasked with maintaining security in Kabul and other cities in the country,” he wrote on his Twitter handle.

نؤكد لجميع السفارات والبعثات الدبلوماسية والمؤسسات ومساكن الرعايا الأجانب في كابول أنه لا يوجد خطر عليهم. يجب أن يكون الجميع في كابول بثقة تامة ، وقوات الإمارة الإسلامية مكلفة بالحفاظ على الأمن في كابول ومدن أخرى في البلاد— Dr.M.Naeem (@IeaOffice) August 15, 2021

A Taliban spokesman told Al Jazeera that those who worked with the West-backed government and military will be offered amnesty.

Two officials from the militant group told Reuters there would be no transitional government following their lighting sweep across Afghanistan.

Ghani’s destination was uncertain: a senior Interior Ministry official said he had left for Tajikistan, while a Foreign Ministry official said his location was unknown and the Taliban said it was checking his whereabouts.

Some local social media users branded him a “coward” for leaving them in chaos.

Footage from the Kabul airport as Afghans desperately try to board a C-17 airlifter with the Taliban taking control of the war-torn country’s capital.#etribune #Afghanistan #Viralvideo #Kabul— The Express Tribune (@etribune) August 15, 2021

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Kabul said in a security alert that the security situation in the Afghan capital was changing quickly, including at the airport, where there were reports of gunfire as US troops aid an evacuation of most US personnel.

“There are reports of the airport taking fire; therefore we are instructing US citizens to shelter in place,” the embassy said.

State Dept warning US citizens not to come to Kabul airport (presently taking fire), Acting US Amb has just fled the embassy. It’s a debacle.— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) August 15, 2021

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